Sustainability is an emotive word. We all know that we should be more ‘sustainable’, but often, it feels too hard. Many of us think that sustainability means making sacrifices, and we quash our guilt about doing the ‘wrong’ thing because we feel like we can never do enough.
We know that the world population is growing exponentially, and that western lifestyles are wasteful. Our houses keep getting bigger, but our baseline levels of happiness are decreasing. The more we have, the more we want, and the less happy we are. Many of us are living lives of convenience without living lives with a conscience, and that downward spiral means that we keep covering up the pain with ‘stuff’.
Imagine, however, that you can live a life full of meaning. Imagine that you can do good whilst feeling good, and the more good you do, the more good you want to do. Imagine waking up feeling inspired and energised, knowing that you are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Imagine that you are an inspiration to many.
Imagine that you can make money whist you feel amazing and inspire others.
On average, we spent between one-third and one-half of our time in our homes. The house, and the community in which we live has a huge impact on our health and wellbeing, and therefore our experience of the world. Wellness and sustainability are linked concepts, and you can’t have one without the other.
The magical thing is that when we find something bigger than ourselves to believe in and fight for, we feel better. Positive psychology has proven that meaning (or purposeful existence) is one of the five elements of a better life, and the environment is a worthwhile cause to invest your meaning in.
At Living Joy, we are a better way of life company, and we find meaning in wellness, sustainability and ethical wealth creation. Our mission is to educate, to inspire and to create a movement of conscious people, living amazing lives, having a lot of fun, and doing a lot of good.
Everyone lives somewhere, and given the abundance of human life on the planet, sustainable living, and living harmoniously with the planet, is a must. The time is right to make the change to invest not only in the future, but in the now.
What is a sustainable house?
‘Sustainability’ isn’t a defined word, but is about maintaining something at a certain rate or level. In building, sustainability means that we use less resources, reuse and recycle more things, and build out of materials that aren’t toxic, don’t pollute and ideally, can be de-constructed at the end of their life.
One of the biggest things that we can do is to build smaller homes. At Living Joy, we take pride in eliminating wasted spaces, and building efficient, light-filled homes that invite nature in and make you feel good. Smaller homes often allow for passive ventilation; the natural movement of air throughout the home to cleanse and to cool, and for more natural light to penetrate.
Correct orientation is another key factor. Each site is different, and to be optimal, each dwelling should make the most of the sun, shade, wind, slope and existing trees. All designs should take into account the climate for heating and cooling needs, and the way that the spaces are designed. Good property development incorporates lifestyle design: making sure that the space suits the needs of the user.
Construction materials make a big difference. Some materials just cost the planet too much for ethical use, even if they are, on paper, cheaper. At Living Joy, we prefer to use local suppliers, FSC certified timbers and recyclable, reusable non-toxic materials. We use a lot of glass in our designs, and always think carefully about what type of window, door, glass and glass coating is the most appropriate. For example, the type and colour of the glass that you would use on a south-facing window is very different to a north-facing door.
Finally, plants are critical. Trees and plants have a massive impact on our psyche, and they are the lungs of the planet. Often, we need to remove trees to make way for dwellings, but we do our best to retain as many trees as possible. We also have a policy that we plant five trees for every tree that we cut down.
We also believe in permaculture, and therefore we create a smart, useful and well-designed garden that feeds the bees, the birds and the people in the development in every new dwelling that we build. Where we can, we make space to compost on-site, and to travel using either public transport or a bike. Rainwater tanks are great, as are deep soil garden beds which naturally absorb storm water.
The majority of our sites are also in ‘in-fill’ locations, meaning that we’re densifying existing areas rather than making cities physically better. From a sustainability point of view, medium-density combined with recycling, composting and public transport is a much more sustainable growth model than large, ‘green-fields’ developments on the outskirts of cities.
As we grow and evolve, and as new technology becomes more accessible and affordable, we will continue to evolve our concept of a sustainable house.
For those of you who are able to invest with us either into a house or a project, welcome. For those of you who want to learn more about sustainable living, wellness and permaculture, sign up to our mailing list and check back soon for more information on our online courses.