For centuries, the home has been designed around the hearth – the space in the house where heat is produced, traditionally the fireplace in the kitchen. The hearth is the heart. It is where the energy of the home is, where people gather to eat and build relationships with each other.
Once we stopped moving around, we became tied to land. Our lives revolved around the crop cycle. We built homes to mimic our social behaviour around the fire, which also served as a permanent space to do the work needed to keep ourselves and our societies thriving.
So, what is the home in 2023? We are now faced with a different context of existence. The issue is no longer just about immediate threats to our survival, but also about how we will produce less energy and waste in order to sustain our planet. Our priorities have shifted and so have our homes.
Master keys to today’s home
We can start to see how complex the home has become – from the technologies used to cook, clean and heat to the myriad of designs and functionalities of rooms and living spaces. The home sees a lot of material come through it, all of which require maintenance or disposal. Seventy percent of all our clothing is made from plastics. These microfibers are pollutants that easily pass into our drain system. This is no light problem when nearly every inch of the world, including the oceans, has been touched by plastics.
Laundry is said to majorly contribute to this microplastic issue. Add-on filters and special-made laundry bags are a great start, but a more holistic approach to the wider system needs to be considered. Later this year, Samsung will release a washing machine in partnership with Patagonia to reduce microplastic deposits. This new machine has built-in AI technology to be water, detergent and energy efficient while blocking plastics before they even enter the water stream during a wash.
When consumers exercise their Global Citizenship
There is a growing demand from consumers for information which will allow them to make ethical purchasing choices. Over half of millennials are putting in the time to research before purchase, and other generations are likely to follow suit. Demands are becoming more sophisticated as consumers become savvier around sustainability. Four in ten millennials would like to know more on the product supply chain, which requires a degree of user-friendly traceability – the ability to track a product end-to-end. Full transparency is not something that can happen over-night and requires collaboration and research across industries. Consumers are demanding companies channel their power to influence and build better homes for us.
Seeing the home as a space for meaningful sustainable change will prompt businesses to be accountable and transparent. And in reverse, sustainable innovation can inspire purchase behaviour. What happens in the home does not stay in the home. Choices made under one roof have impact thousands of miles away.
The home is a place that knows a lot about us humans. It is a place that learns about our behaviour and has been developed time and time again around the ways we aspire to be. We can see the patterns of consumption by the choices made in and around the hearth. It’s all there.
So how will you accelerate your impact in the home?