Self-actualisation guided by the circular economy

Eco-friendly construction as standard and self-sufficiency as part of how we live  

Sustainability as a way of creating meaning is no longer reflected in everyday consumption alone. It is also becoming an aspect of requirements for living and working.

The desire for a sustainable lifestyle has reached the heart of society. As the effects of climate change become increasingly tangible in the form of higher temperatures and extreme weather events, the pressure to meet climate targets is growing. Increasing scarcity of resources and raw materials also requires a rapid transition to a circular economy. For more and more people, especially the younger generations, protecting nature and the environment is becoming an identity that is reflected in consumer behaviour and requirements for work and living. ‘Climate quitting’ is a trend considered symbolic of the fact that a growing number of people only want to work for companies that are committed to a sustainable planet, with no ‘greenwashing’ involved. 

With the changing patterns of consumption and behaviour, demand for climate-neutral products and raw materials is increasing, while the desire for self-sufficient ways of living continues to grow. This encompasses energy supply as well as locally sourced or even home-grown food. In the context of urban planning, more and more cities are working on solutions where all important needs can be met within short distances. In the medium term, this could also benefit sharing or recycling concepts, which have yet to become mass phenomena due to the complexity and extra effort involved. 

A counter-trend to a sharing society is also emerging wherein the sustainability of the things people own can be strengthened through the use of durable materials that are maintained and repaired. To this end, the EU has even adopted a ‘right to repair’, which aims to stop a growing number of consumer goods from becoming disposable products and ensure they remain in the material cycle for as long as possible. The long-term use of objects or infrastructure increases their emotional value, meaning they can also be preserved for or inherited by future generations.  

Inflation and the slowdown in economic growth are set to heighten the tension between declining purchasing power and higher demands for sustainability, which will inevitably come at their own cost due to higher prices for high-quality materials or CO2 offsetting. This brings to the fore a debate on real quality of life and a redefinition of luxury that demands quality rather than quantity. That encompasses everything from high-quality food and electronic consumer goods to vehicles and clothing. In addition to the classic attributes of luxury, however, the connection to our own values or our own contribution to design are also increasingly important. Sustainability thus becomes an aspect of self-actualisation that is no longer strengthened by consumption alone, but by how we shape our own environments, too. 

Ideas for the future of housing – taking into consideration the growing circular economy

The increasing demand for recycling solutions is leading to rising demand for regenerative materials in residential settings.

These include materials made from mushrooms or upcycling solutions where recyclable building materials are used for renovations or new buildings. 

Despite a desire for flexibility and to not be tied down, ownership will play a key role in future. 

Not simply because of financial security – but also from a sustainability perspective. This promotes durability and value retention more than short-term use does.

The ability to help design and shape living and residential spaces is becoming an important aspect of sustainability in practice.  

This allows furniture and other elements of living spaces to be reused or repurposed.

The desire for a sustainable lifestyle is promoting new housing trends.  

For example, smaller flats or ‘tiny houses’ as part of the ‘micro living’ trend. Sharing solutions where unused rooms can be rented out over the short or long term or shared are also on the rise. 

Together with the think tank W.I.R.E., Livit is venturing to take a look at the world of tomorrow to mark its 60th anniversary. The project examines six long-term developments in terms of their consequences for our daily lives and the spaces where we live and work. Follow us on LinkedIn to make sure you don’t miss a post.