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Back to basics: an island getaway for greener living

01 July 2016

As often as they can, Jesper, Linnea, Alma, Ole and Ester leave their city apartment and travel to the windy island where Linnea grew up. This road-free island has only 80 other inhabitants. ‘Feeling the seasons change and smelling the sea and forest instead of exhaust fumes is important to us,’ says Linnea. The family is featured in the new book, Kinder Homes, and they show us around their sustainable second home, plus share some ideas for living more simply.

‘Here we feel more connected to the world around us. The simple things in life are allowed to take centre stage’

Linnea, Sweden

A creative small-space conversion

When Linnea lived in this house for a few years as a child, there was just one room for living, sleeping and eating. But over the past few years Jesper and Linnea have used simple ideas, such as using curtains as dividers, to turn the 65m2 cottage into the liveable, cosy place it is today. ‘Even though we didn’t actually build it from the ground up, we’ve worked hard to turn it into a home,’ says Jesper. Their plan is to build an extension and one day make the leap to full-time island living.

A low-key lifestyle for quality time together

On the island there are no cars, just a few tractors and electric golf buggies. When asked what the best thing about the island is, 10-year-old Alma says: ‘There are no streets!’ At home, entertainment revolves around family time together – books, games and meals at the table.

Build with sustainably sourced materials

For all its charm, the isolation of island life can be challenging. But Jesper says this actually makes people more creative, generous and environmentally aware: ‘We try to use building material that’s available on the island. Getting rid of leftovers is hard here, so it’s better to recycle and share stuff with others. And we try to repair things rather than always buy new.’ One example is their kitchen, which they built inside an old toolshed with the help of the island’s carpenter.

Learning about food from seed to table

On their plot, the family grows staples such as tomatoes, beans and potatoes. ‘Getting our hands into the earth together with our kids has made us realise how fragile life can be. And it’s made us want to take better care of the environment,’ says Linnea. Growing at home lets Alma, Ole and Ester follow their food all the way from the seed to the table. When they are cooking, the family wear aprons and mix by hand to save on washing and electricity.

Inspired by jesper, linnea, alma, ole & ester 10 simple ideas for a kinder home

1. Clean clothes, clean conscience. Wash cold when possible and on the shortest possible cycle. Only run full loads of laundry.
2. Air worn-once clothing instead of washing it to save energy, wear and tear.
3. Get organised. Create a hanging space for worn-once clothing.
4. Save on ironing – hang your laundry in an orderly way.
5. A manual floor sweeper keeps the noise down and saves on electricity bills.
6. Put lids on pots and pre-boil water in the kettle to save time and energy when cooking.
7. When it’s time to replace taps and showerheads, choose water saving models.
8. Shorter showers and fewer baths will also save water and trim bills.
9. Save energy with textiles. Hang a curtain in your doorway to keep the heat out (or in, during winter). Rugs also help maintain temperatures.
10. Kilowatt clever, climate kind – switch to energy efficient LED bulbs.

Kinder homes

See more in Kinder Homes, a new book of 50 ideas inspired by homes around the world, to help us feel good, do good and have fun – all at the same time. It’s packed with creative, simple tips that are easy to incorporate into our daily lives.