Imagine if you could turn your home in Jakarta into a modern tropical paradise. Imagine it was like staying in a resort. Think lush greenery, natural materials, smart technologies, and cozy interiors. Think water features like ponds and intelligent rain water catchment systems, and productive gardens that are pleasing to the eye and to the soul. Think efficient energy and the blend of smart electronics with a rustic, natural interior set up that reflect friendly textures all around your home. Think intelligent lighting and imagine that your home and the way you live, super sweetly, could be a model for evolved living where you weren’t making sacrifices to ‘go green’– you were making home and life improvements that reflected your awareness and wisdom.
If you’ve thought about things and the state of our planet a bit, you’ll realise that we need to evolve the way we live. As much as governments and big businesses are major players, the only real way to evolve things is through awareness in the way we live and how we spend our money, time, and energy. With a massive shift in consciousness, and innovation in the way we live, we will evolve the planet, but it takes a critical mass. And this is true in Jakarta, too. So if we can encourage all our Jakarta buddies and their buddies to begin living a little wiser, and better, we can achieve that critical mass.
It starts with the self. It extends to our rooms, and our homes. It extends further to our spheres of influence within our livelihoods, and further still to our neighbourhoods. This article is about some practical ways to evolve our homes. Test them and I guarantee you’ll enhance your quality of life.
Take the upcoming weekend and dedicate some time to evolving your home and thus your life. Spend some time in the garden or bringing plants and trees into your home or apartment. Make it more welcoming and more intelligent. If you’re eco conscious, make that commitment to live as eco as is practical. As green as possible. And know that the results feel good. It’s not hard or confusing, or complex. It’s something you just do, and navigate along the way. It’s fun. It’s important. It’s the only way we can really call ourselves intelligent human beings. When our dwellings and our lifestyle reflects our philosophy – of living in harmony with our natural, human, and spiritual environments – we experience an amazing quality of life.
1. Become an Energy Jedi
Until we get a clean and abundant source of energy (at which point we can use however much we want!), we would be wise to reduce our burning of fossil fuels and dirty coal. We can do this most easily by doing just a few things that have a high impact:
- Use fans instead of AC’s as often as possible. A fan consumes about 50 watts whereas an AC consumes about 1,000. And fans feel good… If you need AC regularly, set your thermostat to highest comfortable setting (24 for me), and replace the freon with hydrocarbon from Green Star Artek (www.greenstar-artek.com).
- Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs or LED lights, if possible. Old school incandescent light bulbs are incredibly inefficient and use a LOT of energy, especially if you have a lot of lights. Here are the facts: Incandescent: 75 watts, CFLBs: 11 watts, LED: 1 watt. Going from incandescent to LED: 75 times more efficient!
- Use a bicycle or motorbike vs a car for the times where you’re going on your own or with a friend. Seriously, you’ll get great exercise on the bike, not to mention having loads of fun. Or take an ojek (motorcyle taxi). You’ll save a lot of time, you’ll have an adventure, and you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint drastically. Check out www.go-jek.com for a professional motorcycle taxi service.
2. Befriend the Plant Kingdom
We couldn’t live without trees, vegetation, and fruit. For those of us in the city, it’s easy to forget how important they are to us. There are some very simple, enjoyable and high return on investment (ROI) steps we can take here:
- Eat a lot of local veggies and fruits. This will not only make you feel and look great, it will make a serious impact on environmental health. Beef accounts for 18% of global warming gasses, and each kilo of beef consumed requires as much 30,000 litres of water. Not to mention the suffering existence of most chicken and cattle farm animals. Eating fresh veggies and fruits will boost your health, and make the world much better. If you buy organic and local, you get an A+. In fact, if you can, grow your own… all the better. At supermarkets, look for organic products, and in some spots you can find Bali Asli products for delicious jams.
- Plant Trees / Grow Plants / Green your home. The simplest and most useful plant you can grow easily is Aloe Vera. It needs hardly any water, sun or maintenance. It’s an amazing food supplement with a long list of amazing health benefits. Juicing it with veggies or fruits works (try banana, honey, and peanut butter). It can also be used for relieving insect and mosquito bites, sunburn, skin irritations, is fantastic for your skin and hair, can be used as hair-gel, shaving lotion, soap, food preservative, and so many other things. If you begin gardening, you’ll feel a soothing connection to the Earth. Watching plants grow is very rewarding. And, if you plant trees, you’ll improve the quality of your home and surroundings significantly. Trees provide shade, build soil, prevent flooding, and act as carbon sinks.
3. Master your waste
This is a massive global problem. Our garbage is destroying the quality of our water tables, poisoning our rivers and seas, killing coral reefs and animal life, and making a mess of our environment. The following are some simple, high ROI steps towards this endeavour:
- Recycle: Simply buy three garbage cans and put them in your kitchen or garage. One bin for organic waste (food waste except meat and dairy), one for recyclables (cans, bottles, plastic, paper), and one for general trash. This simple step will reduce the amount of trash leaving your house by 70-80%. After a couple of months, you can even sell your recyclable trash! Register with www.freecycle.com to give away the stuff you no longer want in your home to someone who does want it.
- Compost: Around 70% of trash is organic material. That means leaves from the garden, cut grass, vegetable and fruit peals, leftover food, and other organic waste. If you have a garden, simply construct a one square metre wooden box, and dump your organic wastes in there. Remember to layer the compost – wet organic, dry organic, soil, and then repeat the layers (wet organic, dry organic, soil). Within weeks you’ll be creating your own high quality fertilizer that you can use in your garden, reducing trash massively, having fun, and creating valuable soil!
- Use Natural Soaps and Cleaning Products: There are a lot of chemicals that aren’t good for us or the environment in soaps and household cleaning products. The good news is there are plenty of manufacturers of ‘bio’ soaps and natural personal care products. Next time you go to Bali, check out Bali Buddha’s stores or visit them online at www.balibuddha.biz.
One of the best ways to check out what being green or ‘eco’ is all about is to go and stay at a place that lives in harmony with nature. So next time you need a break from the concrete jungle, visit an eco resort like Pulau Macan in the thousand islands, check out Lodges Ekologika on the foothills of Mt. Salak, or check out our ‘Evo Jakarta’ Facebook page for more links of awesome eco destinations and ways to enhance your life in the big durian!