Sustainability is essentially using resources without depleting their future availability or damaging our environment. The idea of sustainable living and a need for it emerged in the early 1980s when perspectives on our needs and the health of the planet’s environment were brought together.
The world human population will reach over 9 billion by 2050. When we are borrowing the planet from our children and our grandchildren, are we handing it back to them in a well-nurtured and restored state? This is the question that’s bringing about a movement of sustainable living. Understanding the fundamental interactions between nature and society, ecological characteristics and social impacts will determine how sustainable our living is. Remarkable breakthroughs in science and technology have helped regular people do their bit towards sustainability, even as they go through the day at home or in work.
How can the common person make his/her home sustainable in today’s era and technology?
Sustainability starts at home.
Small Foot Print Family
Broadly speaking, 5 tips to make your homes more sustainable are:
Individual minimalist living may not seem particularly effective until you realize that the current world population stands at 7.7 billion. This means that minuscule steps taken by the majority of them will go a long way towards sustainability.
- The mantra for minimalistic living is: reduce, re-use, recycle, and refuse (plastics, chemicals, etc.).
- De-clutter and donate.
In order to live sustainability, it is necessary to give a second thought to the kinds of energies which we use in our day-to-day activities.
- Try not to support energy-intensive products or materials with a high carbon footprint, such as meat consumption or plastic use.
- Increase the daylight in our houses by means of open ventilation or skylights. This reduces the use of artificial lighting which is dependent on energy.
- Use solar energy for all possible purposes such as heating water, charging your batteries, supplying the electricity to your home, and cooking.
- Flip that switch off after use!
- Walk to the office, shopping mall, or park if possible. Use public transport instead of driving.
- Heating and cooling consume energy! Keep usage to a minimum.
Composting is easy. We all cook, producing a range of kitchen wastes (from vegetables and fruits, egg shells, coconut dust, etc); paper waste, from our study or our daily newspapers; dry leaves from our garden; and other biodegradable products. All of these can go into the compost bin. One can buy a bin, use a large earthen pot, or even make one at home. Keeping the compost well aerated and moist, together with a little inoculation (using buttermilk, a previous batch of biocompost, or horse/cow manure) is all one needs to begin composting at home. Soon you’ll have rich black compost that can directly go to nourish your plants and trees. You may also choose to donate or sell the compost. Composting greatly reduces the burden on waste management and can also create an enriching product that helps the greenery around us to flourish.
If one considers that access to clean water is a human right and that today’s world is overwhelmed by water quality and quantity issues, then the prudent use of water becomes an important way of life. Every drop of water counts. Checking on leaky taps, minimizing water use and wastage, innovating methods of water re-use, and implementing water harvesting systems to increase groundwater table are a few ways one can work around water in your immediate vicinity.
- Repair leaky taps and pipes
- Invest in rainwater harvesting systems
- Reuse used water for gardening, cleaning your car, and flushing toilets
- If possible, install water-treatment plants in your neighborhood
Plants and Trees
Increase the greenery around us by growing more plants and trees. Create a small kitchen garden at your home or community place. If space is a constraint, then go for potted plants. Urban jungles cause pollution and stress while green forests are depleting at an alarming rate. Plants purify air and are known stress-busters. It has been demonstrated that spending time amidst natural surroundings, near mountains, rivers, in a garden, or even a single tree can calm your mind. Supporting a green ecosystem in and around our homes is beneficial for us and sustainable too.
- Aerobic composting