Smart Consumption in the Mediterranean

» Housing and the home

Keep this in mind!

Our consumption habits in regard to our homes, from the time a house is built or chosen to the way in which we equip it and use it each day, have great environmental impact. Although our options may be restricted by certain limitations (e.g. we can’t move to a different house), our homes provide enormous scope for making changes: building materials, architecture, design of living areas, furniture, paint, decoration, etc.

Both the type of architecture and the building materials most commonly used lead to an inefficient use of energy and materials (in energy terms) and involve hidden costs. Environmental and social impacts can vary a great deal according to how we decorate the house (see Paint and Wooden furniture in the List of products).

Some questions we can ask ourselves:

1

When choosing a home, either new build or second-hand, can I opt for sustainable building?

Can I choose materials which are locally sourced or renewable and which have little environmental impact (straw, clay, plaster, limestone)? Can I choose architecture based on bioclimatic design principles which take advantage of natural climatic conditions to minimise energy consumption?

The refurbishment and use of existing buildings is often the best option from the environmental viewpoint. It is also becoming increasingly easy to opt for sustainable building and the use of materials with a low environmental impact.

2

When I equip my home, can I do it using second-hand items?

Can I recycle or restore furniture and other decorative items for the home? Do I know anybody who has been decorating their home and who may have paint and other materials left over?

Our opportunities to recycle and reuse materials depend on where we are, but we can always ask friends and relations who have been doing their homes up for paint, unwanted furniture, insulating materials, tools, etc.

3

When I buy household goods, where do the materials come from and what economic model am I supporting?

What difference is there between synthetic paint and paint containing vegetable or mineral substances? Does the furniture I buy bear a stamp certifying its origin? What do I know about those big stores selling furniture and fittings?

When you buy new items for the home, look for the certificates that show they have been produced using processes that reduce environmental and social impact. It is also important for us to pay attention to which company is selling us the product to ensure that we are not indirectly supporting conduct we would consider unethical.

4

Will my habits help to keep my home in good condition?

Looking after everything in our home environment is an important part of leading a sustainable lifestyle, as it means we can make the best use of resources. It may seem difficult to be thinking all the time about not spoiling the woodwork, not dirtying the walls, using suitable cleaning materials, not slamming doors or banging things but, as in many other matters, it is a question of adopting a different attitude. Or we may already be aware of these things, as it is often a question of common sense.