Hi, I am Reshma Benny. I am an Environmental Engineering Graduate. I was born and brought up in a permaculture home in Kerala, India. Needless to say, I learned my first lessons of sustainable living from my home. My passion in sustainability led me to build a career around it. My parents always say that the nature is not the environment around us but including us.
Growing up in a permaculture home, waste was my least concern until I moved to Australia to pursue my dream. That is when I heard about the Sustainable Home Challenge 2021, and its goal to build a sustainable home from waste, I was fascinated. The first thing that came to my mind was “why didn’t we think about this before”, because like the majority, waste is something that I passively ignore once it leaves my premises. I had never really thought about what’s going to happen to them or how it is going to impact the environment, precisely my immediate environment. While brainstorming these thoughts, what I found was, waste is such a generalized term for things that we do not need, don’t know how to use, or that wouldn’t get to be repurposed. The use and throw culture have rooted our lives like a virus, that most of the time, we don’t even realize that we generate waste passively every single day from the toothbrush that we use in the morning to many more. In the Construction and demolition waste status report of 2011 prepared by the Department of agriculture, water, and the environment, we see that in New South Wales only, 6.6 million tones of construction and demolition waste was generated in the financial year of 2008-2009.
We are living in a time where a sustainable home is not just an idea but a necessity. It is time that we re-learn the art of living and view our lives in a more environmentally suitable way. Even though nature has always been this way, it is an irony that we have to learn sustainability to practice it. The small idea of buildings made of wasted materials is definitely a solution for multiple problems like waste management, increasing need of housing, and sustainable living, holding the values of 7 R’s of sustainability; refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, recycle, and rot. By involving in this project, I am constantly reviewing my practice of 7R’s and how to incorporate technology and sustainability, ultimately meeting the ideas of circular economy. I can undoubtedly say that this is a new life skill that I am learning, to a new era that is ahead us.
One of the most surprising aspect of this project is its practicality. From the availability of materials to the expense, and time of making/installing a sustainable building while repurposing and reusing already existing materials is considerably less than that of a building made from the scratch. This makes these homes more affordable and practical.
This idea should be a movement, buildings from waste should be discussed more until it reaches to common public, so that it resonates to the future until it become the norm. Like Cristiano Ronaldo once said: “I’m not going to change the world. You’re not going to change the world. But we can help; we can all help.”