In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model.
You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called.” – Buckminister Fuller
What is sustainable living
We hear a lot about sustainable living – from green groups and campaigners, but what does this really mean, and how can we live sustainably?
There are many definitions of sustainability, but essentially it means living in a way that meets our need for food, water and shelter, without harming our environment or compromising the availability of essential resources for future generations. To live sustainably we must use less of the earth’s natural resources, replenish what we can and produce less polluting waste.
Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources, and one’s personal resources. It is often called as “earth harmony living” or “net zero living”
Its practitioners often attempt to reduce their ecological footprint (including their carbon footprint) by altering their methods of transportation, energy consumption, and/or diet. Its proponents aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, naturally balanced, and respectful of humanity’s symbiotic relationship with the Earth’s natural ecology. The practice and general philosophy of ecological livingclosely follows the overall principles of sustainable development.
Lester R. Brown, a prominent environmentalist and founder of the Worldwatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute, describes sustainable living in the twenty-first century as “shifting to a renewable energy-based, reuse/recycle economy with a diversified transport system.”Derrick Jensen (“the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement“), a celebrated American author, radical environmentalist and prominent critic of mainstream environmentalism argues that “industrial civilization is not and can never be sustainable”. From this statement, the natural conclusion is that sustainable living is at odds with industrialization. Thus, practitioners of the philosophy potentially face the challenge of living in an industrial society and adapting alternative norms, technologies, or practices.
Additionally, practical ecovillage builders like Living Villages maintain that the shift to alternative technologies will only be successful if the resultant built environment is attractive to a local culture and can be maintained and adapted as necessary over multiple generations.
Benefits of sustainable Living.
Using less resources– The ability to be sustained in certain areas of life means that you’re not depleting resources. Whether you’re concerned with saving trees, using less energy, or saving water, sustainable habits will support these (and many more) natural resources.
Eliminating harmful chemicals in your home– When you begin “going green” or learning how to make more of your own products at home, you are reducing the chances that harmful chemicals will be present in things your family uses. Your family’s health is no longer compromised by chemical-laden products and the earth is protected from the disposal of these chemicals.
Saving money– Learning to live sustainably almost always results in savings. Sometimes hugesavings! When you are relying more on yourself and less on large companies to provide life’s essentials, the profit-driven middle man is removed from the equation. A more sustainable mindset will also cause you to reconsider purchasing certain products or services you once thought were absolutely necessities.
Simplifying– Sustainability is about checking out the big picture. Do I really need this big house, or could we create a happy home in less square footage? Do I absolutely need a closet full of this season’s latest fashions, or can I be creative with a few wardrobe staples? Do my kids need a room full of toys, or could they survive on one toy chest full? Should we take a trip to the amusement park or spend the time planting our garden? These are questions that quickly come into perspective when your goal is sustainability. You need less, buy less, spend less, and ultimately want less.
Creating less waste– When you purchase less and make more of your own products, far less packaging is used. Have you noticed how companies go so overboard with packaging? Sustainability promotes using what you have until it can’t be used anymore, recycling, and purchasing used.
Increasing personal skills/knowledge– Living sustainably always comes with great lessons. Have you ever researched specific ingredients so you could prepare more healthful food? Or found and followed a great do-it-yourself tutorial? Your personal skills and knowledge base grow each time you take steps in sustainability.
A new and better way of living for a sustainable future for those that see the bigger picture.
I think it’s fair to say the situation we currently find ourselves in – collective lockdown – has given us all reason for pause. It’s an opportunity to take stock and reassess exactly what is important to us, and what’s not. While this pandemic will no doubt have lasting effects, I like to think that one silver lining will be the chance to hit the reset button on the way we choose to live our lives. And from our perspective, that gives us a compelling reason to rethink everything – from urban planning to built form – so that what we do build in years to come supports how we see ourselves living in a post-COVID world. As designers of our future communities, we have a responsibility to harness this moment in time, so that when the worst of it passes as it inevitably will, we can find the positives that ultimately improve the places we live.
While this pandemic will no doubt have lasting effects, I like to think that one silver lining will be the chance to hit the reset button on the way we choose to live our lives.Like many people, I’ve enjoyed spending more time at home. I’ve relished the slower pace in the morning, and having more facetime with my family. I’ve enjoyed being able to stretch my legs and exercise in the local park – a luxury usually reserved for weekends – and the added bonus of being able to say g’day to my neighbours as we go about our daily routines of checking the mail and putting the bins out. I’ve loved the simple pleasures of gardening and helping the kids with their homework. These are the daily rituals and habits I’d like to continue, at least to some degree. So the question I’ve been asking myself lately – and which the industry, and our Nightcap community, needs to help answer – is how do we hold onto the best of this otherwise bad situation?
The question I’ve been asking myself lately – and which the industry, and our Nightcap community, needs to help answer – is how do we hold onto the best of this otherwise bad situation?
Reflecting on what I’ve enjoyed most about being in isolation, I keep coming back to the central idea of connection. Connection to my family, my neighbours and community. Which is no surprise given our innate human need to feel connected to others and our environment. Good design and thoughtful development, of course, can play a key role in creating a sense of community. It’s something we have always focussed on at Nightcap, but which feels particularly relevant now. Connectivity speaks to big-picture planning goals, such as creating 20-minute neighbourhoods that put all of life’s essentials within easy reach, right through to simple but effective design measures, such as ensuring our designs give residents a sense of connection to both the land, and the tribe, and the broader Nightcap community.
How connected homeowners feel to their communities depends on the type of housing they occupy.
In fact, the desire for connectivity has been a recurring theme of recent industry housing surveys, the most recent of which was conducted last year. It’s interesting to look at the 2019 survey findings against the backdrop of our current situation: according to last year’s results, there is a notable difference in how connected homeowners feel to their communities depending on the type of housing they occupy, with people living in freestanding houses more likely to know their neighbours. Of all respondents, 55% felt a sense of connection and 61% felt their neighbours looked out for each other. And interestingly, the customer segments of Baby Boomers and Traditionalists were shown to have a greater sense of belonging to their neighbourhoods than younger generations. I think these findings show that while the industry have attempted to create more connected communities, there is room for improvement in alleviating social isolation and continuing to look for opportunities to better connect residents with their neighbours through common areas, shared amenity, enjoyable streetscapes and ecologically preserved and protected areas of bushland and areas of tribal significance. To this end, our town planning and design team is exploring ways to establish a greater sense of connection.
It’s these and many more as yet unformed ideas that will enable us to emerge from COVID-19 not only with a clearer picture of how we want to live our lives – but by working together as the Nightcap community – the collective will to make it happen 🙂
Sustainable Living Courses.
Would you like to learn more about living more sustainably and creating a circular economy for yourself and your family?
With over 3000 Students Worldwide combined with the knowledge of 45 years experience in the industry, our trainers not only have the professional expertise, but the personal, real life experiences, that will educate and inspire you to create a sustainable and environmentally sound life, that you can share with others.