Movement Five: Home
Your home is your little corner of this world to manage and care for, and in return it shelters and cares for you. And just like how there are many homes in the ecosystem for many different kinds of creatures (a hole in the ground is perfect for some, but others build a nest in a tree) your home should be right for you. Some of us may love apartment dwelling in an urban environment, others a tiny house on wheels, and others may love a cottage or farmhouse in the country.
But wherever you dwell, how you live in your home is a big part of the impact you make on the environment and climate sustainability, as well as a source of your own resiliency. Making a sustainable and resilient home is a big task, but a rewarding one. So let’s explore this topic together.
“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Jane Austen
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelou
“Home is the nicest word there is.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds true peace in his home.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Exercise One: A Home Blessing
From hanging a sign that says “Bless this Home” to smudging the home with burnt herbs, there are many ways to bless a home. And while it might be more common to bless a home when you first move in, a home blessing is something that can be done anytime, and multiple times.
There are many ideas and prayers for a Christian Home Blessing here: House Blessings & House Blessing Prayer – Terra Sancta Guild
And for a pagan Home Blessing here: House Blessing Ritual (isisbooks.com) and here: A Home Blessing Spell – PaganSquare – PaganSquare – Join the conversation! (witchesandpagans.com)
Or try this super simple blessing:
Light a candle, and say:
“We who dwell here bless this home.
May nothing evil cross its door
May it keep love in, and keep hate out.”
If you like, you can carry the candle throughout the home, repeating the blessing in each room. You might also want to pay special attention to doorways, and say the blessing on the threshold.
Exercise Two: Make a Chore into a Spiritual Practice
There’s no getting away from the fact that with a home comes chores. Sweeping, dusting, and other tasks must be done repetitively. But they don’t need to be a hardship, in fact they can be their own form of a spiritual practice. Try picking one task that you do almost daily. For me, it’s the dishes. Now try approaching this task with complete mindfulness. If you are washing dishes, be aware of each dish, pay attention to the motion of your hands. Be totally present to the task at hand. Don’t rush. Breathe. In these simple ways, just by changing the way you approach the task, you can change the whole experience of doing it. Notice how you are experiencing the task now that you are bringing mindfulness and intentionality to it.
Exercise Three: Acknowledge Whose Land This Is
If your home is in the United States, it is likely on land that was taken away from an indigenous people. While we cannot change history, we can learn from it and acknowledge the harm that has been done. Even just an acknowledgement is a first step. Find whose land you are on with this app: Native-Land.ca | Our home on native land
Next, assess whether you are harming native peoples and lands now. Some self assessment questions can be found here: A Self-Assessment – Native Governance Center
Then, depending on where you live, there may also be ways that you can make financial restitution as well. Seattle has the “Real Rent Duwamish” program, and many other areas have similar voluntary land tax programs you can opt into.
Exercise Four: Do an Energy Audit
There is no getting away from the fact that we are energy consumers, in one way or another. That’s our niche in the ecosystem, since we animals cannot perform photosynthesis. But humans have gone far beyond a balanced and honorable harvest of energy, into massive energy consumption that is far out of balance. Much of that energy is used at home.
A large part of your carbon footprint is taken up with heating and cooling your home, along with other home energy use. You can make a big impact with a few upgrades and they don’t all have to be expensive. Sealing air leaks (drafts) can be done with curtains and fabric door stops. Insulating windows for the winter can be done with inexpensive plastic inserts you can build yourself, or even just by applying bubble wrap to your windows.
So assess how well your home is doing now, and then make some priorities for improvement. Here are some helpful tips for doing a DIY Audit of your home: Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits | Department of Energy
Exercise Five: Detox Your Home
You spend a lot of time in your home, so it shouldn’t be a place that makes you sick! And yet many household products do contain dangerous and just icky toxins. And, unfortunately, getting your home better insulated and sealed can just trap you inside with those toxins and not allow good air circulation. Look at the products in your home, read the labels, and maybe even do some research. You might not be able to do anything about the new carpet or the mattress, but what about your cleaning products and personal hygiene items? You may want to swap those out for healthier alternatives, such as these products: 15 Best Natural House Cleaning Products 2021 | The Strategist | New York Magazine (nymag.com)
And then you can clean your air. You can get an air purifier, but you can also use houseplants! Many plants are super at cleaning indoor air up, such as these: 20 Best Plants for Cleaning Indoor Air 2021 | HGTV
Making Home by Sharon Astyk
Sweeping Changes by Gary Thorp
- What kind of home did you grow up in? Is that the kind of home you want to live in now? How is your current home different?
- How is the home you have now already your “dream” home? What do you most appreciate about your home?
- How eco-friendly is your home? What are your priorities for improvement? What would be your big dream for making home sustainable?
- What is your relationship to the concept of “home making”? What attitudes were you raised with? How do you feel now? What aspects of home making do you enjoy and which do you not? How can you shift your relationship to enjoy it more?
- Should housing be a right? What could we do as a society to see everyone housed?
Next: The Trunk