Living sustainably: practical tips for an eco-friendly home
Simply creating a cosy, practical home is no longer enough – we also have to use resources sparingly. The concept of sustainable living is becoming increasingly pressing. Whether you’re just moving out or want to remodel your current home, our tips will help you make your living space as green as possible.
The sustainable living concept seeks to configure and use available living space in the most environmentally friendly and resource-efficient way. Along with key considerations like the building’s energy efficiency, it incorporates a range of eco-friendly methods and approaches, including the upcycling of materials and multi-purpose, modular furnishings.
The aim is to reduce the environmental footprint of living spaces by reducing your energy consumption, producing less waste and increasing the longevity and sustainability of your furniture and furnishings.
Why is sustainable living important?
Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in many countries, including Switzerland. Sustainable living reduces energy consumption, lowering such emissions in the process.
Sustainable living leads to better use of space and resources. Using modular, versatile furniture, for instance, means that you won’t need to buy new furnishings every time you move. It saves on resources, too.
Sustainable living improves your quality of life. It leads to healthier living spaces that are free from harmful substances and creates environments that boost well-being. In other words, it’s not just good for the environment; it’s also good for the people who live there.
Sustainable living – practical tips
Upcycling: old to new
Upcycling is about turning an old, broken or unused item into a new and useful product. Unlike recycling, the item does not necessarily have to be broken down into its basic components. Furniture and household items are great for this. We’ve rounded up three examples to inspire you.
- Wine crates as shelves or bedside tables: Old wine crates can easily be turned into quirky shelves or bedside tables. You can even stack and attach them together to create a large bookcase, or you can place them by your bed for a rustic bedside cabinet.
- Ladders as bookshelves or towel rails: An old ladder can be used as a unique bookshelf. To do this, simply attach it horizontally to the wall and place the books on the rungs. In your bathroom, you could also use a ladder as an alternative towel rail.
- Old doors as tables: If you have a beloved old wooden door, you can repurpose it to create a unique table. Simply sand and varnish the surface, attach some legs and – voila! – you have a new desk or dining table.
Versatile, modular furnishings: good-looking pieces that make moving house that bit easier
A flexible life calls for flexible furniture. You rarely know exactly whether or when your circumstances could change. That’s why having furnishings that are modular and can be used in multiple ways makes sense. After you move, you won’t need to buy new furniture for your new home – you simply don’t have room for it. Buying new items would be expensive, and it’s far from sustainable. Here are two examples of shelving systems with a modular design:
1. The Errex shelf
The Errex shelf is a sturdy industrial shelf that can be easily dismantled, reassembled or extended. It fits into any apartment or studio and can be constantly adapted to your needs.
2. The Lehni shelf
In 1964, Andreas Christen designed a simple aluminium shelf that can be adapted to any home layout using just a screwdriver. It’s also easy to clean and visually striking despite (or perhaps because of) its simple design.
Sustainable renovation: laying a good foundation
Buildings in Switzerland account for a large proportion of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions – around 25%. Buildings also account for 40% of overall energy consumption. As such, it’s important to ensure that your home is both well insulated and sustainably heated, otherwise you’re wasting valuable resources.
Popular measures for upgrading energy efficiency include the following:
- Replacing your existing heating system with a sustainable system (heat pumps, wood heating, district heating, solar thermal system)
- Improving thermal insulation of doors, windows, roof and basement
- New builds according to Minergie standards
The Swiss Federal Office for Energy (BFE) has its own Building Programme. This programme is financed jointly by the federal government, the cantons and business and provides financial support and advice for the aforementioned upgrading work.
There are also a number of other funding programmes at cantonal and municipal level. These differ from one canton to another, so it’s best to find out more about the exact terms and options from your cantonal energy advice centre.
Now it’s your turn: take your first steps towards a more sustainable home! Start with little changes like upcycling old furniture or switching to modular, versatile furnishings. Perhaps one day you’ll work all the way up to a full-blown renovation! Of course, there are other ways to make your day-to-day life more sustainable. This article reveals easy ways to save energy in everyday life.