Can “green living” and Feng Shui go together? Here is a question that won’t leave my mind since the last visit of the Dalai Lama in the Netherlands. His Holiness announced during his speech to the Dutch government that if he had a vote, he would vote for the Green Party.
As “green living” becomes more mainstream and I regularly receive phone calls from people and organizations wanting to know how they can “go green”, I decided to share with you some thoughts on how I think Feng Shui can contribute to taking care of our only home – Earth.
The world is changing and we are changing right along with it.
Environmental pollution of our air, water and land leads to depletion of the ozone layer and climate change. Human activity increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere far beyond their natural levels. Before the industrial revolution, the carbon dioxide level was about 280ppm. It is now 386ppm and rising by 2-3ppm each year. Scientists say continued emissions will cause the planet to heat up further. A warmer Earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans. Most plants and animals will move to find their desired conditions, others will be able to adapt. Those that cannot move or adapt will simply disappear. Some animals, such as the polar bear, have nowhere to move to.
Hearing all that bad news at some point we all ask ourselves “what can I do to make a difference”?
“How can I contribute to a better world”? Luckly there are many little things we can do to make a difference. If we try, most of us can do our part to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that we put into the atmosphere. Many greenhouse gases come from things we do every day. Whenever you use the air conditioner or hair dryer, turn on a light, watch TV, ride in a car, wash or dry clothes, microwave a meal, you are sending greenhouse gas into the air. Just by using energy saving and recyclable products, leaving your car at home and going to your work with a group of friends in one car or taking a bike, sorting your trash and using green energy (solar, wind) you can make a huge difference.
Many celebrities support green causes.
Actress Scarlett Johansson, actor Brat Pitt, singer Bono and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are just some of the famous names calling for strong climate action. Even His Holiness Dalai Lama supports Al Gore’s 350 ppm target* (350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide) as the new standard for which the world should aim. In his official letter of endorsement HH Dalai Lama wrote: “Right now our greatest responsibility is to undo the damage done by the introduction of fossil carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and climate system during the rise of human civilisation. (…) It is now urgent that we take corrective action to ensure a safe climate future for coming generations of human beings and other species. (…) Buddhists, concerned people of the world and all people of good heart should be aware of this and act upon it.” How beautifully said! It touched my hart and changed the way I see the world surrounding me for ever.
That’s why, when last week a client called and asked me to design a human friendly working environment I said to him:
“I would like to design for you a working space that will improve the energy of your office space and at this same time it will help the environment”. The enthusiastic response of the client – “I’m totally in”, encouraged me to incorporate some eco-friendly ideas with my Feng Shui practice. Here a few things I’m planning to do:
1) I’m planning to upgrade de interior of the office space by reusing as much as possible the old furniture.
Wooden furniture items place a heavy demand on wood. Unsafe harvesting has led to severe damages to the environment and natural resources. So by reusing existing furniture I can save many trees. However, Feng Shui demands from me refreshing the old energy. I can then refinish and polish old wood furniture with paints and varnishes that are non-toxic and biodegradable. I live in a country where a variety of water based paints are available. Holland is probably one of the most environment-conscious countries in the world. The furniture I won’t use I will donate to charity so that they can be reused or recycled. If I still need to buy new items I will look for pieces that were crafted from consciously harvested wood (FSC). Some manufacturers plant trees to compensate for their consumption of wood.
2) The flow of the energy through a space can be increased or decreased by the objects being placed in the room.
That’s why I will use eco-friendly furniture upholstery and decorations that are made from organic materials which have a high energy level. Organic cotton, coconut fibre, natural latex, bamboo and other grasses, wool and silk are not just healthy but also beautiful. Again, these raw materials are renewable and are processed without using harmful chemicals. So they are safe for humans and environmental friendly.
3) Plants renew the air which is what carries the energy in a room.
They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere so I will be using a lot of them in my green Feng Shui project. I will install some air-purifying plants like bamboo palms, peace lilies, rubber plant, Boston fern and English ivy. According to NASA these plants clean the air of harmful pollutants. Besides that, strategically positioned plants can activate important wealth and growth sectors for business in the office space.
4) When you’re going for the green Feng Shui, you’ve got to go ecoLED – the latest and greatest technology in replacing light bulbs.
The lamps feature only 1W high power with a useable lifetime up to 100.000 hrs. That means you can replace them ones in 60 years. They also emit no UV rays or heat! The scientists really have hit on the Holy Grail with this eco-friendly lighting. Their calculations show that, if we replace all our lights at home and work with LEDs, the share of electricity used for lighting would drop from 20% to 5%, ending the need for up to eight big power stations! I will do my best to convince my client to use LED lamps in his office. I will also try to maximize all sources of natural light. Light is a very important aspect to Feng Shui, and using natural light in every room not only protects environment and lowers energy costs, but creates bright, peaceful, happy and healthy spaces.
5) I have considered creating a small natural garden in the patio area of my client’s office.
It will help create a healthy outdoor environment for the staff to relax and take inspiration from. If the employees are happy and inspired they will be in best form to satisfy the customers and prosperity will naturally flow in. By carefully choosing the materials, trees, featuring some garden statues and water ornaments in my design, I can create an outdoor space with positive energy that would be supportive to the company and it will create a good impression on the visitors. Besides that, having a garden can mean so much more than just adding an attractive feature to your patio area. It is an opportunity to ‘put something back’ into the environment and encourage birds, insects and other creatures into your habitat. Planting trees in your garden could be one of the best things you can do for the local environment and for the planet. Trees are like the lungs of the planet. Did you know that in a year, an average tree can remove 1 ton of carbon dioxide from the air?
As you can see I could easily come up with ideas on how to incorporate Feng Shui with green design.
Going green and generating good chi in our space actually go together beautifully. They play equal parts in our efforts to live in harmony and balance with our environment. For many centuries we’ve been taught not to cut ‘the veins of the dragon’, or do anything to damage the environment, because that will bring bad fortune. That’s because we’re all connected to nature. We are, in fact, made up of all the same elements. By taking care of our planet environment we take care of our own existence. And when we make green choices for our living spaces, we actually support the Feng Shui elements and connect with the spirit of our planet. This is the only way to a happier, healthier and more prosperous life for all of us.
I hope I inspired you to lead a more environmentally conscious life.
I would like to finish this article with a quote: “Taking care of our planet environment is like taking care of our own home.” ~ Dalai Lama.
Wishing you many great designs,