Home is especially meaningful on Thanksgiving, where we gather with family and friends to express our good fortune. Just having a home provides much to be thankful for, since far too many go without. Imagine how different it could be for the less fortunate among us if, through our actions to help ourselves, we could also help them. The way I see it, that is the essence of a successful society.
From my perspective, Green Living is a form of giving thanks each and every day. It is a lifestyle that honors the Earth as well as each other. It’s really about living on the planet as if we intend to stay. That seems like a logical and worthy endeavor to me.
Living a greener lifestyle does not happen in a vacuum. Benefits usually echo far and wide. Here are some of the things I’m grateful for that relate to our home:
A right-sized home is one that comfortably meets one’s needs without overdoing it. It’s more about warm feet than square feet. When we live well within our means, it means more can live well, too.
An efficient home means comfort in any climate without the need for large amounts of external energy. If you have an older home, get a professional energy audit. That is the best way to start the improvement process. Get the facts, then make the investment. As your power bills go down, your appreciation and enjoyment of your home will go up, and the money you spend in the process might make a difference for someone who needs the work. Incentives are available, too. Just visit www.EnergyFitNevada.org.
I am so grateful for the sun and its ability to provide nearly all the energy we need to live comfortably. It is not a new concept but until recently, mostly forgotten or ignored.
With proper orientation, window type and placement, our homes can be naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It is called passive solar design and it has been done, off and on, for thousands of years. Now it must be done everywhere, always. It is not an option.
Heating water with the sun also has a long history. It is so simple, and such a no-brainer. I am grateful for solar-heated showers. Photovoltaic (PV) panels produce electricity directly from sunlight. They are robust, long-lasting and require little maintenance. PV has been around longer than most people realize but has only recently become affordable for common use.
Cooking with the sun in a solar oven is enjoyable. For others who are less fortunate and where cooking fuel is scarce or unhealthful, it can be life-changing. There are even more ways to use solar energy, each of them an extremely effective way to make a difference. As awareness grows, so does implementation. That changes lives.
The point of this admittedly short and incomplete list is that as we live lighter on the planet, it creates opportunities that can benefit others. As we figure out how to build affordable, right-sized homes that cost little to run, fewer people will be left without a home. When we learn to live well, using less energy than ever before, we all win. Since no one owns the sun, the ongoing democratization of energy makes it available to more of those who need it most while doing less harm to our environment. The goal is to live in a way that actually heals the environment.
The transformation itself creates opportunities that many desperately need. These are some of the reasons I am grateful to be an advocate for Green Living. I know it makes a difference; not just to me and my family, but to every living being on the planet for as far into the future as our wisdom allows.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Rypka, visit www.greendream.biz.