Sunday, February 20, 2005

Home of the Future

We live in the home of the future. Built in 1896, with wood harvested from local resources, this house has raised at least four families. It's had some indignities committed against it, but it shows little evidence of giving up soon.

In 1896, did the builders pause to think about the coming era? Otto Lillienthal was experimenting with heavier than air flight, but Orville and Wilbur's flyer was still 7 years in the future. So was the 1939 Chicago World's Fair, spaceflight, and the struggle for equalities of all persuasions.

It's a Home of the Future because it performs the primary requisite task: it limits the ecological footprint of our family of four. In the future, we will all live within the resource budget of the Earth (plus any space resources we learn to harvest!). We'll leave our wild areas wild rather than sprawling in to them, and we'll rehabilitate our urban areas to allow humans and nature to coexist more peacefully. We'll bring a little more wild into our backyards. Driving a motor home with a microwave and TV into the forest for a "vacation" is really an effort to have a wild backyard.

Another thing we'll have to work out is paying for training. How many of us buy new stuff when the old stuff gets a little worn? When the cost to repair an appliance approaches the cost to replace it, don't we go get a new one? The packaging might end up in the recycling, but the old appliance often ends up in landfill.

Our clothes dryer finally gave up a couple days ago, but I had no time to figure out what to do about it. Plus, it's a four-day weekend for some of us, so I really don't feel like solving why the thing doesn't heat up. If I had purchased basic appliance repair training at some point, I bet I could fix it and get back to my life in little or no time. As it stands, I could go to the laundromat. Instead, I pretended I had to solve the problem with what I knew and what I had.

Taking the back off the dryer was easy, and propping the hairdryer into the heating element's housing was easy, and now I have a dryer that's half as good at drying clothes as it was three days ago. I might be burning up the life of the hair dryer too. What I've really done, is to give myself some space to make a long-term choice. Free from the rush to make a decision right now, I can make a choice that uses resources better.

1 comment:

Robert van de Walle said...

My friend Mike Friese writes:

I guess I live in a house of the future. But it is a youngin', though. just turned 100 this year. It was built from redwood which is NOT a local building material.

You will also be glad to know that my washer and dryer are from the mid-1960's. They break down all the time but I am very handy. I keep fixing things until they are beyond economically viable.

I bought the computer I am using in May of 1996.
My daily driver which I bought new is 22 years old.
My pickup is 26.
My motorhome is the new kid on the block at 19. (I use it when I want a wild backyard.)
My motorcycles are also 19.