The environmental impact and distributive implications of the built environment and our residential environments as mediating human endeavors is significant. Approaches addressing the resource intensity associated with modern ways of living need to go beyond a neo-liberal focus on individual consumption choices, thus widening the framing of sustainable homes as incorporating more than rational, techno-economic solutions in contemporary eco-efficient housing development. The paper explores concepts of home and ways of living as a means of transitioning to practices with a lower environmental impact, emphasizing the underlying motivations and prerequisites for such transitions. A framework for the exploration of residents’ engagement in low-impact home practices is provided, based in theories on transition beyond the economic [urban] growth paradigm and theories of social practice.
An empirical study in the context of a semi-rural community in Sweden is presented, offering narratives from people who have intentionally chosen to live in various low-impact ways – revolving primarily around forms of self-sufficiency and voluntary simplicity. Home visits and in-depth interviews provide insights into why and what these ways of living entail, mapping the types of practices engaged in, and the motivations and considerations conveyed as regards notions of the sustainable home. It is argued that these “home-front transitioners” can be seen as a complementary category to the existing typologies and notions on the sustainable home and home life, hence diversifying the perspective on how to create built environments, services, and systems to facilitate transitions to low-impact living.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Home-front transitions beyond growth: a Swedish case“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.