Our friend and colleague Catherine ZHOU kindly translated some introductory sections from Karen Christensen’s in-progress book Home Ecology. Versions of these tips were included in some of her previous books, and she is busy compiling and writing a new guide that will focus on preparing for climate change, but also deal with other issues close to home. More on Karen’s environmental work is here.
An Introduction 引言 to Home Ecology
This is a book about ecology, a science that studies something very simple: homes, and the relations and networks that make them work. It sounds 21st-century, doesn’t it, a science that is all about networking? But this kind of networking doesn’t just apply to people: it’s about how all forms of life interact. My first book, written with a toddler pulling on my arm and a second baby growing inside me, was called Home Ecology. Now those kids are grown up, and that persistent little boy lives on the other side of the world. The idea of a planetary home is more tangible to me now.
In the years since then, a lot has changed for the better. Buying a nontoxic paint was difficult and very expensive. Today, ordinary lines of household paint smell better, work better, and meet standards we could hardly have imagined back then. Renewable energy has surged; coal production has fallen.
Watch your weight: anything heavy takes a lot of energy to ship.
Imitate nature: choose products and methods made from natural materials that can be reused or that will biodegrade.
Buy things that have already had one owner.
Share tools, exotic cookware, even a car, with friends or neighbors.
If it doubt, choose the cheapest method. It’s likely to be eco-friendly.
Follow William Morris’s rule: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Tips for eating locally 选择当地生产的食品
Grow your own, even on a very small scale. You can’t get more local than tomatoes from your own garden.
When it comes to beer and wine, support your local breweries and wineries. Don’t get hung up on the varietals or hops from some far-flung locale…artisans in your region will appreciate your business and with financial encouragement the quality of local varieties will only improve.
Karen Christensen is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and occasional scholar who also writes about how women gain and wield power. She is the owner and CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, a research associate of the Fairbank Center at Harvard, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and founder of the Train Campaign. She was a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, Read Karen’s occasional dispatches from the frontlines of international publishing at Karen's Letter on Substack, and follow her on Twitter etc @karenchristenze.