Let’s talk about our homes (and if you’re in America or Australia with the biggest homes in the world, this applies more!). We all need houses and we need far more equitable housing policies across many countries. Our homes though also house (get it _) a large part of our consumption. We believe that the space we live in can inspire us, make us feel safe, be more creative, and help with happiness, but this space doesn’t need to be big. It can be full of productive food growing and native, insect attracting plants on streets lined with local trees 🙂 Homes take a whole lot of materials to put together and most of that has rarely been done sustainably. There’s endless new bricks, cement and of course the destruction of land; most of which at the minimum displaces animals and destroys scrub land and forest. There are plenty of homes across Europe that have stood for hundreds of years but suburban tract housing will likely be demolished and we’ll have to go through the whole cycle again in just a few decades. A lot of people don’t like talking about population but a fact of the figure is that we have to continue using more and more land to home more and more people.
The way we build all these new homes can be much improved. About half of direct emissions in the home come from electricity with the other making up heating and cooling. Whilst some countries do this significantly better (double glazed windows friends!), many countries need far better sustainable building codes and standards. Research in Australia shows that only one in five homes is built above the minimum required standards; and they’re pretty low.
Our homes of course are then full of the stuff we buy and the cars we drive to them. We buy all the furniture, we replace it, we add to it. Every extra room adds more stuff, more maintenance, more cleaning, more breakages, more replacements. The neighborhoods we live in could be built for community, walking, cycling, public transport, produce, parks and plenty of trees. There’s so much we can do. Anything else to add?
P.S If suburban sprawl for miles on end hurts you too, Lis wrote an article on the failure of design a while ago up on the site 🙂