As we head towards the end of another year, I thought I would share 5 basic ways to create a more sustainable home. You may or may not already be doing these things, but it is just a reminder about balance, and how to consider your health and our wonderful planet when decorating and designing your home. As a planet of people, we need to stop consuming so much and creating so much waste. If we do nothing else, this will have an incredibly positive impact. We have to make changes in the way we live. The facts are upon us. Climate change crisis and the potential destruction of ourselves, is a reality. I have found in my older years, that the drive to buy things of my younger years was related to things like boredom, stress, a need to create, wanting to fit in, improve myself, or my life.
However, buying things never ever solved these things.
The ways that I have dealt with that feeling of wanting something new in my life are many.
- Writing – for me, creative writing, especially my fiction writing, has made an enormous difference to my life. It brings me great joy and a sense of peace. You may have a different pursuit that brings you those feelings – find it and then do that more.
- Nature – nature really is the best healer. Walk outside every day, and in your spare time, increase your experiences of nature. It does not matter where you go, just be amongst the trees, by the water, in a meadow, next to a creek.
- Engage all of your senses in the experience of life – see the curling bark falling from the pink gum trees. Hear the sounds of the magpies singing to each other, lifting up their voices together. Smell the scent of the earth when it has just rained, the blossoms on the wind, or the saltiness of the sea. Feel the wind on your skin, the sunshine on your face and the sand beneath your feet. Taste fresh fruit and vegetables from your garden or the local fruit market – bite into a mango and experience the exquisite taste of summer.
- People – be sure to have at least one person in your life who you love. Talk with them often. Laugh with them. Watch their faces light up when you tell them something interesting. Walk with them, hold them. Indulge time in being with people and really hearing and seeing them.
- Books – real books, ones you hold in your hands. It doesn’t matter what kind of book you read. Pick up a book, find a space to sit and read. It suspends time, takes you away from the push and shove of daily life and grows your brain.
These are just a few of the things that can replace shopping. There are many more. I would love to hear some of yours, so please add your thoughts in the comments at the end of this post x
Here are 5 ways to be more sustainable at home.
1) Upcycle, Reuse & Include Vintage
Upcycling is a buzz word of the moment, but do you know what it actually means? In the pure sense, upcycling means taking a product or material and sending it up the chain to create a product of higher quality or value than the original item. Recycling is using something over and over again in a perpetual cycle. Things like Aluminium Cans and Newspaper can be recycled in this constant cycle, meaning there is no need to create or use new resources. Once finished with the material is simply turned into something new.
Upcycling has become known for many of us as repurposing or reusing. Examples include jars being made into pendant lights, old shutters being used as feature walls or ends for bookshelves, crates and pallets being made into furniture, or used as shelves, suitcases being turned into coffee tables and pet beds, or the simple act of reusing an old tin to hold pencils.
Incorporating an upcycled piece in any home adds character, individuality and warmth. You can create something yourself, or seek out the object you are looking for from someone who uses upcycled materials in their business. There are now lots of designers, wood and metal workers and creative small businesses using recycled and salvaged materials in their work, or selling items which have been made from waste materials. Many are small businesses and run from their own studio and website, or you can find them at local markets, or online.
The key to having an upcycler’s eye is to consider objects not as they are now, but what they could become. Look at things from all angles and let your imagination run wild! Consider if an old drawer could be hung on the wall as a shelf or used in an open shelf as storage units for example. And keep your eyes peeled. You never know when you might come across something you can turn into a masterpiece for your home!
2) Think Twice
When you want to buy something try to avoid impulse buying. I am not saying to avoid this at all costs, but to consider your purchases as much as possible. Sometimes an impulse buy can be wonderful, other times it just ends up as clutter and then gets tossed. One thing I have learned over the years that is even if what you are buying is vintage, it is a waste if it ends up as junk at your place, or get tossed out eventually. Better to think twice in all cases and buy with some kind of purpose.
The trick is to consider why you are buying the object – and “just because you love it” is a totally fine reason sometimes. Also consider what you can do with that object once it is no longer needed, otherwise you are just prolonging its trip to landfill.
3) Think About and Include Nature in Your Home
Think about your impact on nature and hers on you, when making choices for your home. Where did the materials come from and how were they created? Do they have an impact on your indoor environment? Always incorporate some of the outdoors into your indoors. There is nothing really stopping you having fresh flowers and plants in your home most of the time. Plucking flowers from your own garden or the verge, is such a wonderful feeling. Timber has been proven to increase your wellbeing when included in your home.
Create vignettes that include the elements of the season, such as fresh and dried flowers, gum nuts, seed pods and natural materials such as wicker baskets full of flowers. Go beachcombing and display your finds in a shadow box on the wall made from an old crate or drawer. Use recycled finds such as old windows and doors leaned against a wall, to entwine or hang flowers and other finds.
Having plants and flowers right near your doors, in particular if they can be flung open to the elements, can really bring the outside in. If you have an indoor/outdoor living area, add potted plants, herbs, flowers and even fruits and vegetables, right on the porch or deck. That way your garden is right in your living zone. Perfect for the Summer herbs and tomatoes!
4) Consider your energy use & do what you can
Look at your consumption of water and power and see if you can make any changes. It is not the case that if you can’t do everything, you will do nothing. Small changes matter. For example, make sure you change to LED globes in your lights, reduce your use of power where you can and look for low energy use products when buying things like washing machines and fridges. Install a rain water tank and look at getting it plumbed onto the house. Reduce water waste when doing daily tasks, fix dripping taps and use rain water where you can.
5) Care About People and Planet
If something costs $5 and you just can’t believe it, then it is probably that it is poor quality and that the person who made it was paid virtually nothing. Toxic materials can be bad for your health when you include them at home. It is best to know where your products come from, what they are made with, who made them, and how they were treated in the process. This is very important in sustainable living.
Understanding what went into the product, the materials used and whether these have any negative impacts on your health is also important. Seek out fair trade, locally made products, and ones which are made from materials that are gentle on you and our beautiful planet.