Sustainable living ideas
Home isn’t just where the heart is, it’s the centre of our world and increasingly the place we need to be to stay healthy. But, we need to live in healthy homes to do so. Aside from bubble wrapping the entire house, there are easier ways to create a healthy, sustainable environment beautifully.
One day we may all live in an ultra-low energy use home such as the Passive House, but for now, we can all put into practice what we know will lead to a more sustainable future. So, how do we get started when it comes to our home? It’s more than what you see.
You probably notice the style, layout and colour in a beautiful room, but what you may not see matters, too. High-quality construction and durability of the furnishing are just important interior design decisions. The economics of purchasing better quality for longevity and sustainability is a step toward a healthy home. Think about it, a poorly designed kitchen layout with outdated appliances uses more energy (both environmental and mental) than a well-functioning space.
It’s better to invest in one well-made sofa than purchasing (and disposing of) several poorly made ones over time. Well-designed, quality furnishings endure. Investing in Canadian-made furniture is the smart choice economically and ecologically. You may pay more upfront, but your investment will last. Shopping locally also reduces the carbon footprint and strain on the environment from importing goods from outside the country.
Many home product designers are following the guidelines of cradle to cradle design. It involves planning the entire life cycle of a product, like the cycle of nature. At the end of the life of a product, it can be recycled and returned to the earth biologically or re-utilized into new products technically. Products such as cradle to cradle countertops and carpet tiles are available on the market today.
When a designer comes to your home, they are taking in the whole picture, your entire residence and how you use it. A house is a system with lots of moving parts. Each part is interdependent on the other to work. For instance, the building frame and components such as the walls, furnace and windows, are the body. The inputs (energy, water and furniture) and outputs (waste, sewage, heat and gases) are all connected, activities inside the system like heating, cooking, eating, and sleeping affect the inputs and outputs. So, for example, if your home isn’t well-insulated, you’re losing the energy used to heat or cool it. Remember the dysfunctional kitchen? It wastes energy, too.
If your home isn’t new, there are some easy choices to make when upgrading or repairing energy wasters. Choose high-efficiency Energy Star appliances, fix leaks in pipes, draftproof windows and install low-flow fixtures in the shower and taps. Turn off lights when you leave a room (if it’s empty) and switch to warm LED lights. Use more natural fibres such as down, wool and cotton. Compost! Don’t rinse and repeat all the time.
The goal of good sustainable design goes beyond style, layout and colour. It’s also to save energy, use water efficiently, reduce carbon emissions and reduce waste in the landfill while protecting natural resources. As the song goes, don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. The key to a sustainable, beautiful and healthy home is making good choices for the future.
|Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour.|