Welcome to Ecology Begins at Home!
Make the world a better place, a little every day! 

Positive, practical, hopeful ways to make our world more resilient and sustainable one step at a time. Educational inspiration for building a healthier future for ourselves and the planet. Reflect, experiment, discuss and discover the joys of being a constructive force in the world!  Downloads




A secure, healthy future

Low energy cooking

Measuring success

Change begins at home

Further reading





















nature's package


can factory






steam cooking



A healthy, sustainable future lies in our hands!

Nature, the entire planetary biosphere, is our life support system and its health lies in our hands. We live in it and are supported by it, just like the astronauts on a space station, supported by their energy, food, water and air supply systems. The astronauts cannot trash their space station, nor fill it with more people than it can support, if they want to stay healthy and well. Likewise if we want to remain healthy and well, we must insure that nature stays clean, productive and healthy, and keep our numbers and our consumption within the limits that nature can support on an annual basis. With a footprint of 1.7 planets, humanity is far above that right now. Thus, it is time to roll up our sleeves, think creatively, and start changing things for the better, beginning at home.

1. Humanity's "trash" (the waste products of all our production and consumption), is trashing the planet with toxic and non-biodegradable materials. We are slowly poisoning ourselves and all of nature. Carbon dioxide, one of many waste products, causes global heating and an acid ocean. We need to reduce ALL our trash by consuming less, reusing and lots more sharing, i. e., by voluntarily limiting ourselves. The astronauts wouldn't live long if they ate up all their food and used up all their energy in a great on-going party, so they discipline themselves! We too can live meaningful and happy lives made safer and healthier by living moderately. Good for us, good for other species, good for the planet.

2. Every square inch of the earth’s surface has been taken for human use today, crowding out animals, plants, forests, etc. Many species have died out due to lack of space (habitat), for example, birds and insects, making ecosystems less resilient and less productive (see WWF Living Planet Report). All the planet’s land, water, groundwater, minerals and even the oceans have been conquered for human use. We have no buffers, no surplus cushion to use in times of drought, flooding, earthquake, fire, epidemic or other stress. To guarantee survival of most species and our own health, we can set aside half of our planet's land and water as nature reserves (see E. O. Wilson's book Half Earth and WWF's New Deal for Nature). Since space on the planet is limited, this implies voluntarily reducing our human populations to what each land area can generously and healthily support and still leave half for other species and for ecosystem resilience.

3. Resources (forests, fish, farmland, soil, minerals, wildlife,etc) are shrinking because we take more from nature than grows back each year. Lots more: the total human ecological footprint is 1,7 planets but we in the wealthy countries have footprints of 5-10 planets or more. Expanding cities and roads pave over valuable farmland. Deforested and plowed soil blows away with the wind. Irrigation overuses groundwater and accumulates salt in the soil.  Climate change makes things worse through heat, drought and flooding. Storms destroy property, crops, animals and villages. Violent conflict over dwindling resources destroy even more resources.

4. These natural physical limitations (or planetary boundaries, as they are also called) put a limit on how much humanity can grow. We have already passed the limits, creating crowded, unhealthy living conditions and an unstable climate. The instability grows when we try to solve poverty with more growth. Instead, we need to consume less and solve poverty by sharing more. We need to improve our health and natural economy by setting decreased population as a primary goal in all countries (see the free online books Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot and Human Overpopulation Atlas).

5. As we reduce our demands on the common planetary resources, we improve our situation, move towards living within the limits, become less vulnerable, more resilient and healthy. Virtually everything that humans produce ends up as trash that nature cannot reuse to regenerate new resources. Thus, health and sustainability are achievable goals but require profound changes in our lifestyles and in our production and distribution systems. Technical change and industrial efficiency alone cannot solve the problems. As far as "trash" goes, technology is the problem. For example, renewable energy from solar panels has a large resource footprint and creates a lot of trash. The same for electric vehicles. See fact sheet Growth vs Health and Sustainability. The rich in all countries (this includes you and me) must take the lead in reducing our consumption and restoring ecosystem healthwe are the leaders of our own revolution. See Change begins at home.

6. Reducing our needs and still living joyfully isn’t especially difficult (see A secure, healthy future) but requires a new way of thinking, thinking more of our children's future and less of ourselves. Human experience and research tell us that we can be happy and fulfilled without high consumption. Our parents were happy, weren't they, and we as children, with only half the consumption? In fact, above basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, etc, science and literature both tell us it is family, friends, health and education that are most important.   Less consumption means less work and gives more time to spend on valued activities. Hunter- gathering peoples worked only about 15 hours a week, enjoying each other and their environment the rest of the time! A key is a more egalitarian society, where we cooperate and enjoy rather than compete.

7. The United Nations expresses our creative challenge for the 21st century in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 major goals with 168 sub-goals. Underlying all these goals are strong, resilient communities and a healthy, stable nature (see System Sustainability Diagram). When we know we have healthy local agriculture, energy and freshwater ecosystems that can  provide our basic needs indefinitely into the future, we can truly feel hope and be satisfied. We can then help others to achieve the same. Thus, our own community's future, as well as the whole world's, truly lies in our hands. It is a matter of getting our priorities right and making change happen now.

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Reviews of Ecology Begins at Home

—The most important single book any citizen of the planet can read on environmental issues… amazingly clear and simple… immensely empowering… bursting with creativity and the fun of exploring. Pierre Pradervand, author of The Gentle Art of Blessing, in Cygnus Books reviews, April 2009.

—An essential guide to low-impact living… easy steps we can all take at home to reduce our impact on the planet. Friends of the Earth, Scotland, 2006.

—Read it in one sitting and fell in love with it… fun, immediately rewarding, and easy enough to do right this minute, Community Regeneration, Rodale Institute, USA.

—Easy to read… practical little book. Archie use[s] the choices he makes to change the world. The Environment Centre, Swansea, Wales, 2009.

—An invaluable guide to reducing one’s impact… riveting… [for] even the most hardened environmentalist, Environment Magazine, UK, 2006.

—The best book yet on how to green your lifestyle… makes the whole subject very clear and understandable. Permaculture Magazine UK, 2005.

—Inspirational… within minutes I was implementing changes… If you are finding it hard to persuade family members, this book’s non-preachy methods might just work! Green Parent Magazine, UK.

—The most genially simple and concrete guide to practical ecology out today. Should be spread in massive editions, not the least to children, who easily understand it and who are usually less habit-bound than we adults. Swedish Library Service 1990.

Archie Duncanson, environmentalist, retired engineer and writer, lives in Stockholm, Sweden. Trained in engineering, economics, computers, optimization, statistics and systems theory at Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA. After a career as management consultant in industry, taught and wrote on how to solve the big environmental problems from the bottom up by taking personal responsibility. Believes teachers can be the most important people in life—as mentors, encouragers and by asking the questions that make you think!

Copyright 2005-2020 Archie Duncanson. Contact: Pokalvägen 6-5tr, 11740 Stockolm. duncansonian=at=yahoo.com. Såettfrö Publishers, Stockholm.