New Ways of Living

How the home can become a space for generating food, energy and water

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Today is April 25, 2030. My name is Paul and together with my wife Mary we have just finished planting lettuce and tomatoes on our home’s balcony.

We hope this year’s temperatures will not be as extreme as the ones we experienced last summer, as the plants required plenty of water then, and we had to limit the time we spent showering at home.

Today, with the vegetable garden, we will have spent the 200 liters assigned to us. The water meter we have in our bathroom will probably show we have used up the entire amount. We might obtain four or five additional liters with the water we recycle today.

We never imagined that our apartment, which we considered a place to rest, would become a space for energy generation, for recycling and farming. This truly provides a great deal of satisfaction even though it requires some effort from our side.

I still remember when the government passed the Climate Change Act, promoting the self-generation of food, energy and water, as well as vegetable gardens at home and recycling.

We really thought it would be very difficult to implement this measure, but four years later, 60% of the population in our city already has a fruit and vegetable garden at home. It was not a swift process to start with, but after only a few months, a competition started throughout the city to see who had planted a garden and who had installed a recycling system. We bought an entire efficient bathroom, and the demand for these kinds of products was so high that the company struggled to keep up with it. Fortunately, it had started producing these products many years earlier, and that’s why it was ready to meet the needs of their customers.

We were the first ones in our building to do it, but even those who were reluctant have started implementing these measures. And now they even compete to see who has grown the best tomatoes or who has the biggest peppers.

I still remember Mary saying, “How will we do it, if we don’t have the time or space?”

The truth is that, after the pandemic of 2020–21 and with both of us working remotely, we had more time to do something productive at home. Our home changed so much in the last ten years: the vegetable garden on the balcony, the bathroom that recycles and monitors our health, the solar panels …

Installing solar panels”
Installing solar panels. Photo Bill Mead/Unsplash

Speaking of health, that is another field which has taken a tremendous leap forward. After the pandemic, digitalization and monitoring found a space in every home. We purchased products with health sensors that measure blood pressure, test your urine, feces and oxygen levels and provide weekly results. We are now able to talk with our doctor via videoconference using the mirror in our bathroom. Everything happens for a reason.

Water was the most difficult issue to deal with. We had never imagined having to control the amount of water we used every day. At first, there were days when we ended up with no water and had to wait until the following day. We had never paid much attention to this and now we’re able to do the same things using only half of what we used to consume. It’s only a matter of organizing ourselves. We don’t need to take endless showers; the WC doesn’t have to be flushed every single time; and we can close the tap while we’re brushing our teeth. These very simple actions cut our consumption by half.

It’s also true that the new bathroom products, with very low water consumption, both in the WC and the shower, have helped us to control our water bill.

But one of the most interesting developments has been the possibility to recycle part of the water we use. This has increased the amount of water allocated to us. And we have enough to water the vegetable garden every day in the summer.

In addition to recycling, the WC also provides fertilizer for the vegetable garden. It separates urine from feces, filters and processes them, returns water to the tank, and in just a few days transforms feces into fertilizer for the vegetable garden.

This year we will fertilize the entire vegetable garden with what has been transformed in the last four months. Our vegetable garden, with an area of only six square meters, will provide enough vegetables for both of us during the entire summer.

In hindsight, I believe we are happier now than ten years ago. We are increasingly aware that we are doing something good for the planet and for ourselves. And our home is contributing to the creation of sustainable systems. We are part of the whole more than ever.

Main image: Tending to the home garden. Photo Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

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