Mary Lim

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

va: reading response (Eco-effectiveness & Catherine Gray)

Why being less bad is no good and eco effectiveness by McDonough & Braungart – Reading Response

  • since the Industrial Revolution, there has been the response of trying to find a "less bad" approach (reduce, avoid, minimize, sustain, limit, halt)
  • Rachel Carson's Silent Spring - marked the moment where the "romantic strain of wilderness appreciation merged with a scientific basis for concern"
    • she pointed out that seemingly harmless things, DDT, actually had a devastating impact on the natural world
  • The Four R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle–and Regulate
    • reduction is central to eco-efficiency
    • overall, Eco-efficiency is admirable but not practical
      • it works within the same system that caused the problem in the first place
      • was just trying to make the old, destructive system less destructive 
    • even though companies claim to be eco-efficient, they are probably distributing their pollution in "less obvious ways"
  • Eco-Effectiveness
    • once designers set about designing with short-term usefulness, convenience and aesthetic pleasure rather than its ongoing life, the process of innovation begins --> it is here where designers leave aside the "old model of product-and-waste, and its dour offspring, "efficiency," and embrace the challenge of being not efficient but effective with respect to a rich mix of consideration and desires."
    • Consider the Cherry Tree
      • a cherry tree which naturally sheds its blossoms are not seen as wasteful because their nutrients nourish the soil
      • what would be a human-built cherry tree?
    • What is growth?
      • growth should be considered a good thing, but urban and industrial growth is almost seen as "cancerous"
    • A new design assignment:
      • buildings that produce more energy than they consume and purify own waste water
      • factories that produce effluents that are drinking water
      • products that are not wasteful, but can be turned into new products
This reading provided a new perspective on eco-efficiency and effectiveness. It broke down all my previous knowledge about being environmentally friendly. Little did I know that the methods we have today (being "green") are ineffective and are made under the same type of thinking. Much like the cherry tree, designers should keep these things in mind - and not create just more waste. 

Catherine Gray on sustainable business by Bruce Mau – Reading Response
Catherine Gray's, founder of The Natural Step, mission is to move "society towards sustainability." She explains that she works with large companies where they raise awareness, then analyze the business from a sustainability perspective, so that the company understands their biggest risks and impacts. The Natural Step tries to reverse the trend of declining natural resources. Still, there are barriers to The Natural Step in keeping with the balance of profit and sustainability. 


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