Sustainability arose out of a concern for the harmful consequences of the “high consumption, throw-away” society that became widely noticeable in the 1960s: planned obsolescence, excessive waste, pollution, resource depletion, ecological destruction, etc; and of the damaging effect of pesticides on native animals, especially following the release of Silent Spring by Rachael Carson in 1962.
Modern Sustainable Living
Since the late 1960s, sustainable living, sustainable farming and the creation of sustainable communities have been practiced in rural and remote areas by people who were born into modern, industrial city-based societies. In the earlier pioneering days of experimentation, individuals and groups were aiming for a high level of self-sufficiency, the main components of which were:
- building their own homes;
- growing their own food;
- keeping small-scale livestock;
- producing their own power;
- creating their own water supply;
- making their own clothes and household necessities.
In those early days, some purists traded the car for a horse-and-cart, but over time, most communities opted for a good level of sustainability without going to extremes, or inducing unreasonable hardship on themselves. Most people found that as various aspects of community living began feeding into and supporting other aspects, synergies emerged making the process much easier than they had thought possible.
Sustainable communities are those that live in ways that do not compromise future generations, and allow, enable and encourage their members to live in ways that:
- heal the environment,
- increase the bio-diversity,
- improve the atmosphere,
- increase renewable and non-renewable resources.
Much of this is achieved by reducing, individually and collectively their ecological footprint, through practising ways to live lightly on the land, such as reduce, re-use, recycle, replenish, repair, restore and regenerate, as one simply lives ones life. This is not seen as a burden, but a far more enjoyable, efficient and preferable lifestyle.
By using smart, biologically enhancing designs, and choosing to renew, regenerate, revegetate and reinvigorate, residents can create and enjoy wholesome, healthy trouble-free, low-maintenance, inexpensive, high-quality living.
There are two aspects to living sustainably:
- living well now, in a way that will satisfy our true needs;
- being able to maintain living well indefinitely without deterioration.
This is created by:
- using energy-efficient designs to reduce and eliminate pollution and ecological destruction;
- living in harmony with nature;
- conserving resources, including re-using and recycling;
- regenerating and increasing resources that have been diminished.
Sustainability moves a community in the direction of greater viability, through significant reductions in costs and waste in every aspect of life. One principle of increasing community wealth is to spend and retain as much money within the community as possible. Community residents achieve this by producing more of the community’s needs on the community. The greatest ongoing need is food, and by producing their own food through gardens, residents can ensure a higher level of health than if those foods were purchased from outside. Generally, the more food a community can produce for its own needs, the healthier, wealthier and happier the community will be. The further the community can drive the basic cost of living down, the less impoverishment that exists.
Sustainable communities work with nature to create and enjoy healthy and comfortable living through:
- less outside dependence and more community functioning;
- less duplication and more shared resources;
- less funding requirements and more local creativity;
- less purchasing and more creation;
- less waste and more reuse and recycling;
- less obsolescence and more durability;
- less fragmentation and more integration.
Technologies that assist sustainable living include:
- solar, wood chip and slow combustion water heating;
- solar, wind, water and small internal combustion power generation;
- intelligent, insulated house design for passive warming and cooling;
- bush-pole, mud-brick and straw-bale building;
- gravity-fed water supplies, drip watering, hydroponics and nurseries;
- organic and biodynamic, gardening, permaculture, and sustainable agriculture;
- wet-land conservation and bush regeneration;
- composting toilets, non-polluting waste disposal and methane digesters;
- compost production and worm farms,
- reuse and recycling;
- health promoting diets and natural healing modalities;
- wholistic teaching methods.
Reducing Water Use
- Rainwater tanks
- Dual-flush toilets
- Ceiling and wall insulation
- Low volume shower heads
- Reusing grey-water for toilets, lawns, flower-gardens and orchard trees
Reducing Power Use
- Insulated skylights
- Compact fluorescent lights
- Locating bathroom, kitchen and laundry close to hot water systems
- Insulating hot water pipes
- Collecting initial cool water from hot water system for other use
- Extractor fans to reduce Air-conditioning needs
Wall and ceiling insulation