Lady with Styrofoam for recycling

People make money through recycling one specific thing, like this lady who was riding around with styrofoam she had collected.

Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.

Trash in Cairo (video 3:36 – using food waste to create methane for cooking, cooper in trash to make solar panels

Sustainability – a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste free. The model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems. –Cradle-to-Cradel Design

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” –Bill Mollison, founder of the permaculture design movement

Permaculture – a design system for creating sustainable human environments” “meeting human needs while improving ecosystem health.”

“Sustainable” goes beyond just achieving a net-zero impact. Good design is regenerative, which means it actually gives a net benefit to the environment, the economy, and people. Key concepts include rainwater harvesting, natural building, waste management.

Sustainability is much more complex than simply adding the buzzword “green” in front of our lifestyle choices. As the population of our planet tops seven billion people, we must consider the social, economic, and environmental implications of our everyday decisions and the effects they have at personal, local, and global levels. Explore how the interplay between patterns of human consumption, natural resource management, economic systems, and cultural norms are shaping our world. Students will increase their awareness of sustainability issues through readings, discussions, documentaries, site visits, and student presentations and projects. –WKU

Cradle-to-Cradle Design, regenerative design

  • models nature’s processes viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms
  • “reduce reuse recycle” methods perpetuate this cradle-to-grave strategy
  • discourages down-cycling, encourages the manufacture of products with the goal of up-cycling

What’s the problem?
Reuse Everything Institute – tackling the plastic bottle litter epidemic with a 70-pound hand-cranked tabletop machine that has an inset for a variety of plastic bottle sizes, a cylinder to turn each bottle and a blade to cut it into strips. The plastic strips, from one-half inch to three-quarters of an inch wide, are fused into long strips that can be made into fencing for construction, agriculture and erosion control; greenhouse roofing; and tropical roof thatch, among other things.

  • Ask – How can plastic bottles be reused? How can one person with limited resources, turn plastic bottles into something useful? By cutting the bottles into strips, they can be incorporated into fencing.
  • Imagine – How can the bottles be processed near where they are used? What kind of machine will cut the bottles? How portable can it be made? Can it be operated without electricity or a gas engine?
  • Design, Build – What is the maximum weight that can be lifted by one or two people? Can the hand-crank provide enough power to operate the machine? How wide must the strops of bottle be for the fencing?
  • Improve – The machine can be improved to increase the number of bottles that can be processed.

That’s engineering

  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family. It is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers
  • thermoplastic – a material which becomes soft when heated and hard when cooled. Thermoplastic materials are used for electronics to protect against electrostatic discharge and radio frequency interference. They can be recycled.

Engineering ideas

  • environment, fuel, energy, extraction, recycling, waste management, water treatment, hydroponic, passive, solar, catchment

Research/Debate Topics (.pdf):

  • Environmental and economic implications of fossil fuel extraction
  • Viability of alternative fuel and energy sources
  • Environmental and economic implications of corporate food production
  • Alternative gardening techniques
  • Global trends in recycling and solid waste management
  • Economic sustainability: personal, institutional, and national ramifications

Design/Build Projects:

  • Net Zero architecture
  • Aquaponic/Hydroponic gardening systems
  • Passive solar heating system
  • Water catchment system

Learn more…

  • Sustainable development – a way for people to use resources without the resources running out. Development with sustainability “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Sustainability is much more complex than simply adding the buzzword “green” in front of our lifestyle choices – WKU summer camp – Sustainability