Right from childhood, we are told to switch off the lights and fans when not in use. Save water, save electricity, turn off the ignition when the vehicle is idle, the focus has always been on saving and the reason given is all of these resources are non-renewable and if we are not cognizant, they’d end soon. 

As I researched

about sustainability several other very pertinent reasons emerged that confirmed that it is not just enough to save utilities that are sourced from natural resources, but it is essential to:

  1. Save existing resources and extend their lifetimes
  2. Harvest renewable resources and avoid wastages
  3. Create alternative, sustainable options

A beautiful example that I always go back to is how forests function. They do not require any external ‘help’. They survive and thrive on their own, feeding off and into each other. That is ‘efficiency’. Utilizing every possible resource at hand and not wasting anything to be self-reliant.

Here’s an example of a family that has inspired our own journey to sustainable living and the possibilities it presents.

Our inspiration — Dervaes Family Farm | The Urban Homestead

So, how can we make our homes more efficient. Of course, energy efficient equipment and saving water is always on the list, but what more?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Solar: How much of the energy used at your home is powered by the Sun? India is blessed with a lot of Sun and almost all through the year. While most urban societies have switched to solar geysers, there is a lot more scope for us to harness the Sun energy. Here are two links that should give you an idea about what kind of investment and space you could be looking at for solar installation. (See links at the end of the post. 
  2. Water: If we have the intent, every home has the potential to harvest enough water to fulfil its own water requirements for at least 3 to four months in a year—that is offsetting a huge burden from the municipality systems and by being self-reliant, decreasing the rising water expenses from external water suppliers. Here’s a simple calculation:

To calculate how much water, you can harvest from your roof (can also do this for your apartment building)

(Area X Rainfall (mm per year) / 12 = average monthly number of litres you can harvest

Chew on the thought. 

3. Waste: There are two kinds of waste generated primarily through urban centers: Solid waste and water waste.

  • The organic waste can be dealt with right at our homes through various ways (We discussed two methods earlier… here are the links… method 1, method 2) and these ways/methods can be at the level of our homes or our societies.
  • The inorganic waste can be separated into plastics, electronic, bio etc., waste and sent to appropriate recycling centers.
  • Water waste can be treated and reused for ornamental gardens or other purposes at home or community levels.

4. Soil: Most homes and communities invest huge amounts on creating and maintaining gardens for aesthetics… how about using a part of it to grow our own food nourished by the compost we make from our own kitchen waste and water using our own grey water systems? Ask anyone who eats food grown by them and they cannot stop talking about how much value, appreciation and health they have been able to generate by growing their own food.

In permaculture, there is a beautiful concept of evaluating a particular practice by counting the number of utilities or functions it has. It’s called ‘stacking function’. Essentially, it is about making our home self-sustainable by making efficient use of our own energies and energies we are blessed with through the natural resources. 

The idea of efficiency to live sustainably is like practicing yoga to improve health, mental wellbeing and increased productivity, all at the same time. 

Everything is related to energy. Our activity, the warmth and light from the sun, the movement of the wind, the sustenance from water and soil. All of it. The better we are able to tap into it and consume it in a way which is circular (and not linear), the more the chances of us and the ecosystems thriving.

Stay inspired. Stay blessed.

Love and Grace.

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