What is eco living?
Before we get to know what eco living is all about, it is imperative to understand the connection between man and nature and realise why it is so crucial for man to be in tune with nature.
Man is born of nature, from the spiritual point of view all life forms are connected and whatever we think, say or do has an impact not only on our consciousness but also on the consciousness of the Universe and therefore our environment.
This impact then manifests in the long or short term and in a subtle or obvious manner. Sun (fire), Wind, Earth, Water are the natural elements or resources that have been provided to man by nature.
In Indian tradition they are known as the ‘panchbhoot’ or five basic elements. In fact our physical body is made of these elements and when it dissolves or perishes, it then merges back into these elements in nature.
The fifth element is ‘ether’ which is the subtle element where the spirit of the humans establishes a connection with the divine upon dissolution.
So what exactly is our role in being eco conscious? In recent years the scale of natural disasters like Tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, drought, landslides etc have not only become gigantic in scale but also increasingly unpredictable and sporadic in nature.
Huge debates still continue regarding ‘how much’ of human activity is directly responsible for it but that is not important, what is, is that it is responsible. Same argument hold true for global warming.
We are wasting far too much time deciphering the degree of it, the matter of fact is that it is a reality staring at our faces. Thus it would be unreasonable to live on earth and assume that our actions do not impact it in any way.
If you are wondering that what can ‘I’ do to help or what will ‘my’ actions alone accomplish then remember, one person doesn’t cause a tsunami or an earthquake, millions of people do with their nature harming ways, over a number of years.
Similarly what we can do positively as individuals adds to the collective well being of our environment – Every attempt counts in being eco friendly and ‘green’.
Since man and nature are inseparable entities and intrinsically connected it is crucial to live in tune with nature such that we take from it but at the same time make minimal impact on it or even better, we replenish it.
This sensitive, ecologically aware and responsible way of living can be termed as Eco living. It is a conscious choice to make a difference, a step out of the comfort zone towards making a difference towards the world we live in.
How can one adopt eco lifestyle through every day living?
In terms of our immediate surroundings, our homes are where we spend our maximum time with our loved ones. We want the environment and quality of our homes to be mentally relaxing, physically healthy and spiritually uplifting.
In fact all our lives we earn and save so that we can invest in a house that is an abode of peace and happiness. Along with our homes our workplaces also need to be healthy because we spend a considerable amount of time in there too.
Eco living thus entails all the actions, choices and purchases that go into making the habitat environmentally friendly, economically viable and chemical free. Following are some basic guidelines through which one can begin to live in a more eco sensitive way, starting from a home.
In general, if you are planning a new home then there are many eco friendly design ideas that can be incorporated in the initial stages like orientation towards sun, double glazing, insulated walls, floors and ceiling spaces, use of recycled timber, thermal mass using concrete floors, energy efficient appliances, light fixtures, rain water harvesting, solar panels, waste water recycling etc.
Engage an eco designer or advisor along with an architect for the same as it can save you thousands of dollars over many years.
For an existing house, make sure that it is well insulated. Insulation seals the house and prevents unnecessary air drafts and loss of heat thereby reducing your air conditioning and electricity bills. If your bills are high then it generally speaks of low / poor insulation of the house.
Avoid excessive use of chemicals and cleaning agents. They are not only bad for your skin but harmful to nature as they pollute our water systems after being washed away. Try home made cleaning solutions with lime, baking soda, salt or vinegar instead.
Have a kitchen garden in your backyard if possible, nothing better than growing your own veggies and eating fresh ones rather than their plastic packed supermarket cousins.
Have a compost pit for all the organic kitchen waste like veggie and fruit peels, egg shells, left over food etc. The manure can be used to nourish the plants in your garden. Why overload the garbage truck?
Make wise appliances choices – for ovens, refrigerators, dishwasher, washing machines etc. Choose ones that have high energy star rating, higher rating means more efficiency and better performance.
Turn off the power of the appliances at the wall when not in use – microwave, audio players, computers etc all consume electricity even when simply tuned off but left on at the switch level.
Use fluorescent tube lights or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) instead of incandescent bulbs, latter are large electricity consumers. LED lights are excellent for outdoor use.
Water is a precious a resource – minimise showers times, fill the sink when washing veggies instead if using running water, do not let the tap run when shaving or brushing teeth. All these everyday habits result in unnecessary water loss.
Always use full loads of dishwasher and washing machine. Check whether the dish washer is energy efficient, if not then it may be using excessive hot water and electricity and you may be better off washing dishes with your hands.
Try washing the car with a bucket of water and eco friendly soap in your driveway instead of lavish car washes that consumes gallons of water.
Make sure none of the water faucets at home leak as it can contribute to immense water loss. Have water saving aerators fitted on all faucets.
Ensure that the hot water cylinder and the first six feet of the pipe running hot water is well insulated. Hot water cylinders can potentially use heavy electricity if they are not insulated well.
Have a ‘low or ‘dual’ flush cistern at home as it consumes less water than a single option cistern. Every flush consumes approximately about 12-15 lts of water so go easy on flushing.
Garbage insinuators in kitchen sinks consume a lot of water and are best avoided.
Go vegetarian at least 4-5 days in a week. It is not only kinder to animals and nature but also cleanses your body and calms the mind.
Say ‘NO’ to plastic bags – make it your mini mission of life. Carry cloth bags for shopping that can be reused over and over again.
Recycling is good but that too consumes energy when processed into newer goods. First Rethink – before buying, be better, aware and informed consumers. Reduce your shopping bills by doing ‘need’ based shopping rather than ‘want’ based shopping. Then recycle whatever you can rather than discarding it altogether. Discarded inorganic materials / goods occupy a lot of landfill land and take millions of years to decompose into fossil fuels and become useful again.
Get a through home audit done so as to identify possible areas of energy wastage, and improper utilisation of resources within the house.
The general myth around being green or eco savvy is that it takes unnecessary time and money to live a healthier lifestyle. There are many ways of going about things. Beings eco friendly does not always mean making expensive choices.
There are greener and healthier ways to live within the existing budget and available resources. Above all, it is a personal commitment to live a healthy and stress free life, make healthier food and lifestyle choices and be kind to nature in the process.
- Nidhi Nautiyal is an eco consultant and green designer with eco-logicaliving ltd®. All rights reserved