Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Wedding

All in all, through my experience this semester, I think it has brought me to a better place. Using the environment as a staple as a designer I have chosen to become socially conscious. Being green and using organic products is part of being socially conscious, but also using the 3 “R’s” renewable, reusable, and recyclable is important.

Recently, weddings have become reoccurring event in my family. I have attended and been a part of 5 family weddings within the last 2 years and more to come in the near future. When searching about weddings, I came across the couple Kristy and Nik.

This couple are big green-goers and had decided their wedding on entirely green decisions. They used organic foods locally grown/ sustainably harvested fish to homemade tablecloths that were later used as dinner napkins.

After reading about their story I researched more into green weddings. Apparently, this was a growing industry! There is everything available. There are hybrid limousines by OZOcar; Organic Vintners wines, Houston-based Green Hotel Association (hotels that are committed to saving water, energy, and reducing solid waste); solar powered reception halls; caterers that offered pesticide-free menus, china and linen that were useable and even websites that set up donations to environmental charities instead of guests giving heavily paper wrapped presents.

This industry was all about the zero waste factor. It seems that most green products were targeting towards this goal. Using all these organic services will enable less fuel consumption and less air pollution. It will create a healthier menu for you and your guest, use renewable resources, reuse and recycle products, all while saving the environment.
Researching also brought me the jewelry industry. Extracting precious metals and gems can damage the ecosystem and harm miners. One of the harms the jewelry industry can bring to table is using cyanide and mercury to separate gold from rock. This process can poison the miners and the environment. This is where companies GreenKarat take action.

Green Karat mission statement :
Our mission is to provide an ecologically and socially responsible jewelry alternative to those who seek change. We want to help you, in some small way, become part of the permanent solution. Together we can make a difference.

Green Karat realizes the dangers in gold and gem mining. Large scale mechanized mining is destructive to the land and near by aquatic ecosystem. The after effects of the mining could be catestrophic. Not only are large scale mechanized mining harmful, manual miners use harmful techniques are well.
Ways to help out in mining:
1. Stop the use of mercury in mining,
2. Start the process of recovering damaged land,
3. Help miners learn to operate with ecological awareness, and
4. Transition to the miners to sustainable livelihoods.

Green Karat conscious about arsenal miners in poor countries. Although they realize not all mining could be stopped, they try to help as much as they can. They take action in retraining these people to have non-mining livelihoods. This will stop them from mining and interacting with harmful chemicals that destroy their health and the environment.
Some groups trying to help the environment because of these mining problems are: The Basel Action Network (BAN) , Phyto Reclamation, and Ecological Mining to Forest Gardening.
BAN works to prevent globalization of the toxic waste. One of the many efforts they are striving for is to end the use of mercury in artisanal mining. This toxin does not break down and over time accumates in the food chain, which becomes very concentrated.
Phyto Reclamtion is a project to use crops to soak up contaminants from soil at the mining sites that are no longer being used. Once all soaked up and cleaned out the land could be put to use for agricultural use. The gold soaked up in this process is used to fund education and training in these areas.
Ecological Mining to Forest Gardening is a program to teach miners safer techniques and more environmentally friendly ways in going about mining. It also inclucs restoring damaged mining areas and transitioning miners into he program features techniques with a lower environmental impact, restoration of already damaged areas, and a transition to a sustainable livelihood through Forest Gardens.

What do you do if precious metals and gems aren’t being mined? They are being recycled! GreenKarat offers recycled gold, platinum, as well as other precious metals and gems. They also believe in synthetics that will meet the demands of industrial needs.

They offer wedding bands and commitment rings. As well as a variety of other recycled jewelry.

To read more:

I also came across one of the most important factors of a wedding-- the wedding dress! There are alternatives a bride can choose for her dress. There are dresses that remade from the old (recycling old clothes); a dress that can be used for the wedding and the reception; or organic dresses. Organic dresses are made from hemp silk. Many are 100% Sustainable Biodegradable Product certified. After using your old garments (dresses), why not recycle them! Just like recycling gold, reuse the fabrics to make new garments and new wedding gowns! Many designers now are also taking old fabrics and recycling them into new fashions. Not only are designers recycling, but the everyday person can go to a seemstress and alter their old clothes.
You can find some recycled clothes online at

There are also a variety of organic bustiers, corsets, and lingerie made from organic fabrics for you and your lover to share on the honeymoon or any other special occasion!

Save the earth
How to add shades of green to your wedding day:
— Limit guest travel. Have the wedding in the town where most guests live; help arrange car pools.
— Have a daytime wedding, outdoors when possible.
— Choose recycled paper for invitations and place cards.
— Serve organic, locally grown food.
— Decorate with organic, locally grown flowers, fruits and veggies. Create smaller centerpieces. Choose potted plants rather than cut flowers.
— Seek out caterers who recycle materials and use linen and china instead of disposables.
— Wear vintage clothes and jewelry, or choose “green” fibers like silk or organic cotton.
— Use candles.
— Go acoustic.
— Hire a hybrid limo, or a horse and buggy.
— Pick digital over film.
— Check out businesses that claim to provide green services and see if they really do; many new companies have entered the rapidly growing market.
— Find out how much greenhouse gas your wedding will create at, which offers to then “offset” the event by inviting you to invest in energy saving technologies.
— Pass it on: Show guests that an elegant event can also be light on the environment.

Sources: Maria McBride, Brides magazine; Nik Kaestner, environmental consultant, San Francisco; Eric Fenster, Back to Earth Inc., Berkeley, Calif.; Latha Poonmallee, Case Western Reserve University;; Debi Lilly, A Perfect Event, Chicago.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Art + Design (a group effort)

Everything nowadays seems to be about going green. Wherever I turn- television, classroom/classmates, internet, fashion, there are always something related towards helping the environment and development to preserve them. From small designers to the larger ones, corporations are now joining the green movement. At first, it all seemed like a gimmick; all the eco-friendly, organic products were more costly compared to our everyday products. However, when investigating further into the matter, it is all a matter of a better, safer, more efficient for us and our future.

The boundaries between Art and Design are often times not clear. There are designers who put products out globally, that are unnecessary and wasteful, misleading consumers with false incentives and purpose.

However, there are the other designers who really do care. They believe and find passion towards the ever-changing environment and fights for us to live in a more sustainable society. They are constantly striving for efficient and environmentally-focused ways of producing goods. Using these materials that scientists and engineers produce, they are making good use of those developed materials, incorporating them directly into their designs.

It isn’t only designers and artists who have to and are making the effort. In order for any of these eco-friendly designs and ideas to get implemented, society as a whole must tackle this problem together. Our communities have to take necessary steps to conserve, preserve, and recycle to prevent any further catastrophes related to our natural environment.

Our society today is being challenged by eco-friendly promoters through the means of public awareness and marketing strategies. They share and embed a sense of self gratification by preserving our environment. Consumers are beginning to become more conscious and aware of the need to change. They are now purchasing recycled products, organic goods, and walking away from companies that do not provide an environmentally centered incentive. Not everyone knows though. That is why we have to strive to notify people about the difference they are making.

Even the design process derived from personal exploration of the sensual possibilities of materials and aesthetics, with no user group analysis involved should consider the environment. Designers itching to scratch a design problem or questions for personal investigations should still be aware of good and bad design and should be consciously aware of the zero waste or added waste they are contributing to.

Fashion designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta, as well as numerous other designers are going green. They are turning to organic fabrics and bamboo for their designs. Not only are these couture designers going green, more affordable companies such as levis and H&M created organic lines for their company. By using organic cottons designers are helping the environment and fellow human beings.

Inorganic cottons are only 2.5% of land, but uses 10% of pesticides and 22% of insecticides. These toxins pollute soil and water that lead to the death wildlife. It also kills 20,000 cotton works per year.

Growing organic cotton is 20 cents more to produce, therefore more expensive in the market. When people purchase organic clothes and products, do they know how much they are helping? They probably don’t. If people knew the animals and lives they were saving, don’t you think they would think twice about purchasing the inorganic cotton tee vs. the organic cotton tee?
While browsing blogs last week, I came to read one about recycled denim. I participated in the 20% off jeans if you brought in old, unused denim, but also didn’t know why and where this denim was going. I was pleased to find out that the denim was being recycled and made into house insulation- a major problem in homes.

Land footprint: which is the amount of cropland needed to produce a given quantity of cotton taking into consideration differences in productivity of cropland in various regions and long term impacts on soil resources from various cotton growing methods.
Water footprint: which measures the acre-feet of irrigation water needed to grow crops and the amount of water needed to dilute toxic concentrations of chemicals to safe levels.
Carbon footprint: which measures the area needed to sequester carbon emissions associated with planting, maintaining, and harvesting, irrigation, production of chemical inputs, and disposal of wastes.

Growers Fibers Footprint Calculator

Buyers Fiber Footprint Calculator

By a house being properly insulated, they can reduce energy costs. Good insulation will retain desirable temperatures more a longer duration of time. By using blue jean insulation you are putting yourself out of danger from carcinogens and high costs.

Maybe this could help the town of Levittown. Levittown is the country’s first planned suburb. They are striving to become the first suburban community to go green. Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi launched a green campaign. It encourages everyone (17,000 homes, 52,000 people) to do a small portion. It could be from changing light bulbs to installing a new furnace to getting proper insulation. Most people in the community are taking action, but because of economic struggles many are postponing these tasks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Better World by Design

A Better World By Design conference has a large number of issues at hand. I didn’t’ attend a Better World by Design- RISD/Brown 08’, but listening and reading about the material presented at the conference really intrigued me. There were so much about design I was out of tune with. I came home from the conference and started to research more about the topics listed in ID history blog provided by Nancy.

I reoccurring theme of inspiration by nature was particularly intriguing. By using mimicry of animal parts, scientists and designers have been able to create enhanced aircrafts, boats, as well as other things. By using the found technologies we have found a more efficient way of doing things.

Humpback whales have incredible agility. Scientists suspected it was due to the bumps on the leading edges of their flippers (hydrodynamic edge). If the mimicry of these bumps were to be used we could create more stable airplane designers (fighter jets for less stall and more safety), submarines with greater agility, and turbine blades that capture more energy from the wind and water (more efficient ceiling fans). The possibilities are endless.

Shark have a high movement efficiency. Scientists have found that the shark’s skin is the key role in this ability. Their skin has a course texture. It is because it is made up of small individual scales called herman denticles. They are otherwise known as “little skin teeth”. These scales with longitudinal grooves help minimize water turbulence produced when fast water moving over smooth surfacesoccur. These grooves reinforce the flow direction of water, as well as prevent marine organism contact when they are moving through water.

Scientists and designers have found a way to mimic a shark skin’s texture. They have used it on the coating of boat surfaces. This helps boats also to prevent organisms from attaching themselves on the boats surface. This improves the boat’s energy efficiency, as well as reduces the use of toxic chemicals (when cleaning the boat).

This biomimicry has also improved the swimming business by being able to create swimsuits swimmer to increase speed. Along with these applications, there are numerous other technologies being developed. There are more nature inspired products to come and I am excited to see what the results will be.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Problems of the World

Growing up in New York/New Jersey, I might not have seen the world, but I have seen the problems that lie within my environment-there are a lot. There are the homeless people I see every day. I don’t even know how they survive in the conditions that they are under. The other day I was sitting to get on the subway and a little boy had sat next to me. He looked my way frightened, I didn’t know why. Was I that repulsive? I looked around to see what could be the problem, when I got this awful stench coming from right next to me. I looked and there was a homeless man, you couldn’t even see his face because it was buried under an oversized coat. He was wearing raggy slipper and socks that looked like they were a part of his skin because he had not taken them off for so long. There were brown stains; I’m assuming it was because he took a number 2 in his pants. All the accumulation of dirt and bacteria had started to deteriorate his skin. There was fungus growing everywhere.

Seeing that man got surprised me. Not because he was in that state, but because I hadn’t even noticed him prior to the little boys scared face. I probably would have continually not have noticed the man.

Later that day I was on the subway and didn’t know how to get to a particular location. I had sat down waiting for the subway to come and decided to ask someone. I turned to me left to ask the man next to me. When he responded, the stench coming from his mouth and body was unbelievable. He answered politely and I left, not able to bear the smell. I turned around to look at him, and to my surprise, he was a homeless man. How did I not know this prior to speaking to him!

I began to realize how much a problem this had stirred in me. The surroundings I was seeing was merely surroundings, I couldn’t even get the details right. How could someone be sitting next to me, and me now know it. I realized how immunized to my surrounding and the tragedies around it and how sad that really was. In my mind, I thought as a person I had a lot to think about, all the material we learn about I school, my life problems, my friends’ life problems, and my relatives problems. I was looking, but not really.

Listening to Dr. Bruce Becker helped me realize something. I knew by my past experiences that even though I think I know tragedies, I really don't. Experiencing them first hand, such as Dr. Becker had done is something incredible. Although there are so many problems around us, he was able to look at the bigger picture to help us as a people. Of course I think we should help our nation because we have a fair share or problems, but third world countries and nations less fortunate or in need of safety are just as imporant. Dr. Becker is right. Although one person cannot make huge changes in other countries a lot less fortunate, it still helps. If one person helps, and another, it soon turns into a large group of contributors. This large group can make a difference. To get there…it’s one step at a time. We can help ourselves, while helping others. It's a group effort to make the world a better place.

I have visted the MoMA numerous times, since I live right there. There was a particular exhibit that interested me about keeping the homeless warm. There were insulation houses that were very accessable. I looked up this project that was done and found a series of other projects. These project reflect our need for safety. It is not only us that need a sense of safety, but something everyone wants.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Renewable Resources

Self Powered Portable Tool

Compact device that includes a First Aid emergency kit, hand cranked or sun powered (solor panels) turns to FCC- AM/FM/Weatherbands, EAS plublic alert system, flashlight, and cell phone charger.

Fruit Powered Clock

Just hook up to fresh fruit or vegetable and turns into a digital clock and calender. Uses micro-electronic technology to naturally generate electrical potential. A new spin on renewable power source!

Sun Jar

Captures sunlight in a jar! It is a glass mason jar with a solar charged high tech energy efficient LED lamp. All you need to do is place the jar in the sunlight and it will generate a soft natural light at night.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chanel Mobile Art Exhibit

The Meaning of Products

Lately, I have been wondering about the relationship between products and people. I have also been investigating how branding plays a role in our society and peoples everyday lives. I think that the reaction a product receives is heavily influenced by branding. I believe through branding a product can be viewed in a different way by consumers. A product that is made under a company or designer with a name already established has a better chance of receiving a controlled result. They have a reputation or built trust with consumers, that gives the buyer a sense of security. Security may limit consumer’s palette and curiosity of other brands and designers, but that is why customer loyalty exists.

However, I don't think that all interactions between products and people are influenced on branding. That is why new designers are being founded and new ideas a coming out. The fact that new designers can come into our society proves that the "new" is having some impact on people that can create a language between the "new" product and an individual or group of individuals.

I do believe that designers old and new, who are able to survive in the world, are ones that have an understanding about the subconscious. They understand or have previous data (statistics, demographics, people’s real wants and needs) about people’s psyche and are able to predict an outcome. Because of this knowledge they are able to design a product that will most likely have a desirable outcome, but of course this outcome is not always desired. Even so, these successful designers have some better understanding than the majority. They are able evaluate and understand multiple levels of interface.

From my observations, I strongly believe that design has the power to effect or even control how a person can or cannot act. Any design will provoke some type of feeling in a person. I don’t think that a design is always interpreted in the way that they designer intended, but they is why opinions are formed and controversy is conceived. I think that in this “controversy” idea of ownership plays a big role. A person’s image/persona is something personal and something dear a one’s heart whether one likes it or not. It is their identity in the outside world and the “stuff” that they have is part of creating that identity. By owning that stuff they are expected by society or fellow consumers to behave in some manner. By stepping outside of those mannerisms one could possibly mar that image and the “stuff” that goes along with it.