Published on January 31st, 2015 | by Sarah Tarver-Wahlquist0
Eco Feng Shui
Tips to Bring More Positive Energy into Your Home
“Spring is wood energy and represents rebirth, a chance for a new chapter to be written, a time for things to begin.” ~Debra Duneier
Springtime naturally prompts us to want to spruce up our living spaces. Rooms that feel cluttered, drab and unappealing drag on us while we’re eager to embrace the season’s regenerating energy. Applying the basic inspired tenets of the ancient Chinese art and science of feng shui can transform any space.
Translated as “wind and water,” feng shui—which has been creating healthy and harmonious environments since its origins 3,000 years ago—can activate our rethinking the arrangement, uses and tone of each room, while bringing beneficial green changes home.
Feng Shui Basics
“Feng shui is the original eco-science.” ~ Will LeStrange
When considering how to apply feng shui principles, it helps to have a trained practitioner make a map, or bagua, analyzing how energy, or chi, moves through a building. They will determine ways to help chi flow and settle in appropriate places to support all aspects of life. Recommended alterations typically start with furniture placement, color choices and key accessorizing. Sample bagua maps are available online to reference.
While a complete feng shui treatment may require major revamping, we can also take some low-cost steps to immediately create more harmony while eliminating toxins that are unhealthy and disrupt the energy flow.
Bring in Spring
“Bringing natural elements into a space will aid the circulation of chi, help achieve a balance and yield an indoor environment of peace and calm,” says feng shui practitioner Maureen Calamia, owner of Luminous Spaces, in St. James, New York.
Feng shui categorizes the natural elements as water, metal, fire, earth and wood, reflected in items like stones, plants and water features, as well as art and wall decorations and paint colors. Filling a home with living plants is favored by many feng shui experts
“Surround yourself with green plants, including cuttings from the yard,” advises Debra Duneier, a feng shui master practitioner, certified eco-designer and author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience, in New York City. “They bring the energy of spring and life force into your home, while also filtering the air you breathe.” If adding plants isn’t feasible, she recommends picking up some fresh flowers each week. Remember to change the water every day and dispose of the flowers at the first sign of wilting (dying flowers bring negative energy).
Banish Toxic Materials
“Feng shui is about making our built environments in sync with nature and natural cycles.” ~ Alisa Rose Seidlitz
“Healthy indoor air quality is an essential aspect of good feng shui,” attests Alisa Rose Seidlitz, an eco feng shui consultant/designer, certified green building and interiors professional and owner of Ambiance Eco, in Berkeley, California. “Materials used inside our homes, such as cleaning products and furnishings, can either contribute significantly to poor air quality or support positive feng shui.”
Indoor air quality is significantly impacted by furnishings and décor. When seeking out the cleanest, greenest options, pay special attention to:
Cleaning products. Safely discard toxic cleaning chemicals, taking them to hazardous waste pickup sites. Many household jobs can be done with vinegar and baking soda.
Paint. Revisions in wall, trim and furniture colors quickly freshen a room and bring new energy, especially when they align with Earth’s natural elements. Avoid conventional paint, which contains dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOC) that off-gas into the air. Look for widely available zero-VOC brands. Other options include displaying art or colorful wall hangings.
Flooring. Many toxins lurk in conventional carpeting and adhesives used to lay wood or tile floors. Look for natural wool rugs, reclaimed wood and zero-VOC floor adhesives. Preserve resources and alter the energy in a space by repurposing reclaimed materials for rehab projects. For good feng shui, smudging with dried sage cleanses any negative energy leftover from previous owners.
Furnishings and fabrics. Mainstream furniture is typically treated with toxic flame retardant, so always ask how furniture has been treated before purchasing. Seek out nontoxic and natural materials like natural rubber mattresses and hemp or organic cotton shower curtains and window coverings.
Follow Your Joy
Feng shui is multifaceted, but at its center is a search for balance and harmony. When making changes at home this spring, it’s good to know we can follow our instincts and add things that bring us joy. Feng shui principals provide guidance in choosing colors and elements, but each of us is ultimately the best judge of what feels best for our own space.
“I often ask my clients: What kind of message are you sending yourself?” says Duneier. “You can use your space to send yourself a message of a beautiful, abundant and healthy life.”
Sarah Tarver-Wahlquist is a freelance writer for GreenAmerica.org, from Tucson, Arizona.
Color Me Feng Shui
Here’s a quick primer on the colors associated with each of the five natural elements and ways to bring them into a home. Seek a balance of all five in each room, appropriate to its use.
- Wood ~ green, brown ~ living plants, wood, flowers
- Water ~ blue, black ~ water features, running fountains, glass
- Earth ~ earth tones, soft yellows/oranges ~ brick, tile, ceramics
- Metal ~ white, gray ~ rocks, stones
- Fire ~ red, purple, bright yellows/oranges ~ sunlight
An online search for practical information on bagua-mapping resources produces these results.