The sustainable living movement has gained a considerable following in recent years. As home owners become more aware of the impact they are having on the environment, and becoming conscious of ways, big and small, that they can reduce their environmental impact, the design of a typical modern home is being redefined. Nowadays, every aspect of a house can be designed with the environment in mind, from the materials and fittings chosen, the layout, furniture, and all the decorative elements we choose to make the house our home. Sustainable living also goes well beyond the home, and can be implemented in regards to the food we eat, our transport choices, our water consumption, and our attitudes towards waste.
Terms such as 'sustainable', 'eco', 'green', 'environmentally friendly', and the 'slow' movement are all words we commonly hear. But what do they really mean? Today we will give you an insight into the meaning of these terms, and offer a few tips on why living sustainably is beneficial for both you and the environment, and how you can easily implement these ideas into your home.
By definition, sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce the use of earth's natural resources, or personal resources. One of the main benefits for the owners of homes that fit with the sustainable movement is the amount of money you can potentially save. By reducing the cost of heating, reducing water consumption and implementing clever lighting solutions, the amount of money saved over the long term can be significant. If you are in the process of building or renovating, sometimes the cost of environmentally friendly materials or fittings might be more expensive intially, but the long term savings will far outweigh the initial cost. Often by going green, there may also be financial benefits from government in the form of rebates. Of course, there are many little lifestyle changes that can be made in your existing home, including turning off lights when not in use, turning off applicances at the wall, reducing time spent in the shower, and reusing water around the home to water plants, for example. The cost of living is rising, so be conscious of your decisions in the home.
Often the main reason people choose to live sustainably is simply to help out the environment, to ensure it will exist for future generations, to be enjoyed as it should be. By harnessing energy from resources such as the sun, we can dramatically reduce our environmental footprint, in turn, reducing carbon emissions. According to the 2013 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Statistical Release, compiled by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, energy supply is by far the biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses in the UK. This report also shows that emissions in the UK are down from previous years, with figures reduced by around 2% in previous years. As the sustainable movement continues to grow, these figures should continue to fall.
Along with helping your hip pocket as well as the environment, living in a green home also offers a number of noted health benefits. By living in a space that is illuminated by natural light, those who spend their days inside at home during the day, such as stay at home mums, or those who work from home, will not be reduced to using artificial light. Natural light has been shown to increase happiness, and reduce depression in some cases. The sun is also the largest supplier of vitamin D, so by enjoying your breakfast basking in the sun, you will not only be helping the environment by not switching on any lights, you will also be doing your body a favour, too.
Eco-friendly homes also seem to have a lot of character. Upcycling is the process of converting materials deemed as waste or products deemed as useless, into items of value, for the purpose of the environment. A common example is turning an old wine bottle into a candle holder. This differs to recycling in the fact that the waste material or product is not broken down first, to then be used again. Decorating a home with upcycled items, and by implementing smart ways to reduce waste, your home is sure to be a talking point amongst friends.
The small home movement is a common term used for the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. It is a counter movement to the modern desire to live in unnecessarily large homes, and aims to reduce the cost of living, and the environmental impact that comes with living in a home that is bigger than needed. It also allows for people to live a life less focused on material items, and to live simply and more happily. The small home in this image is a creation of the Wee House Company, who create cute, energy efficient homes that exceed UK regulatory standards.
When purchasing furniture, be conscious of the materials it is made from, and the process taken to create the final product. This beautiful table has been surprisingly crafted from bamboo, a completely sustainable and sufficient resource. Unlike most timber, bamboo is a self regenerating resource, and does not release trapped CO2 once harvested. Woodquail is a Bournemouth business who are well aware of the environmental benefits of bamboo, crafting pieces of beauty whilst helping the environment. To see a selection of their work, click here.
Energy consumption is the largest contributor to greenhouse emissions in the UK, and lighting forms a large percentage of this consumption. LED lights are by far today's most energy efficient form of illumination, with an estimated energy efficiency of 80-90% when compared to traditional lighting and conventional light bulbs. LED lights also contain no toxic materials, and are 100% recyclable.
On top of this, LED bulbs have a significantly longer lifespan when compared to conventional bulbs, and can be switched on and off without affecting its lifetime or light emission. All these positive points lead to less waste, and can also save you lots of money.
The sustainable living movement is here to stay, and is only going to continue to grow as families become more educated about their impact on the environment, and the ways they can help out around the home. Hopefully you have learned a thing or two about sustainable living, and have been inspired to change the way you live in your home, to ensure the beauty of our natural environment can be enjoyed for generations to come.