4. I will strive to live sustainably on the Earth.
Gaea is sacred.
This material plane that we live on is also sacred. It is not a prison to be escaped, but a privilege to be experienced, even when it comes with hard lessons.
One of those lessons is being interdependent with this planet on whom our survival depends. Keeping the Earth clean and functioning well is not merely a nice liberal idea. It will be the difference as to whether our descendants live or die. Therefore, everything we do in the Order must strive for sustainable, Earth-friendly existence.
This path is a difficult one, and one in which a very low value is placed on convenience for its own sake. To live a lifestyle that is as sustainable as possible will require sacrifices and continual inconvenience, especially compared to modern Western culture and its love of convenience over right living. In the Order, every interaction with the material world must be considered in terms of its impact on the Earth, and conservation of resources and energy.
Of course, this must be balanced with what the community can afford. Sometimes, hard choices will need to be made. For example, if the House is supported by the outside jobs of some of its members, and a vehicle is necessary to transport them to work, and the only car currently affordable by the House is an old gas-guzzler, then do what is necessary for survival and slowly work towards getting a more ecologically sensitive vehicle. On the other hand, if the house electricity is run on alternative energy methods, and this means that one has to decide which appliances are necessary, perhaps it would be better to dry your wet clothing in the sun or above a woodstove rather than have the (usually unquestioned) luxury of a clothes dryer, however inconvenient that makes things.
The House itself should be constantly being improved, as quickly as the members can make it happen, in order to make itself more sustainable. Ideally, a House should run entirely on a mixed set of alternative energy methods, and not be dependent on large energy companies. It is acceptable to remain on the grid for emergencies, or if the local power company has a program where extra energy created by alternative methods is paid back in the form of company credit, as this is a good bartering chip. Any new extensions to the house should use sustainable building methods, and hopefully waste supplies from other construction. Most new items should be acquired secondhand, and repaired within the community if possible. The House itself should watch its output of garbage, compost everything that it can, burn or recycle as much as possible of what remains, and partake in modern consumer culture only as much as cannot be avoided. Resources should be conserved in every way that one can.
Not every House will be able to manage all of this, especially when starting out. The ideal is progress, not perfection. Concerted effort must be made in moving towards these goals at all times, although sacrifices may need to be made at first in order to ensure the group's survival. The ideal House would be rural or semi-rural, with room for doing enough agriculture to provide a significant amount of the House's food needs. Some Houses, though, may be urban or suburban, because that's where most of the people are, and the jobs, and they may not want to live in the middle of nowhere. As a compromise, we suggest that an urban or suburban House have a partnership agreement with a rural House that will exchange food resources for work or other fair trade, or perhaps that a House might operate out of two buildings, both urban and rural, with members going from one to the other on a schedule. This way, products grown on the farming House could be sold in the city, and jobs worked in the city could support the farm.
All agriculture done at a rural house, or even gardening in the back yard of an urban house, should be entirely organic in nature. There is no excuse for using petroleum-based fertilizers or pesticides. Animal feed should also ideally be organic, but as organic animal feed is expensive and difficult to obtain in some areas, compromises may have to made until special arrangements can be made with a local organic farmer, or until the farming House can grow their own hay and grain. All animals should be kept at the least according to local organic standards in terms of their care, and should have access to sun, dirt, greenstuff, adequate shelter, water, and space to move around in. They should be killed quickly and cleanly - a bullet is better than a throat-cutting - and all parts of them used or fed to carnivores. No animal that gives its life to feed people should be wasted in any way.
Care and attention should be paid to the ecosystem that the House exists in, especially a rural House. The need to obtain food and possibly fuel from the land should be balanced with the need to disturb the existing ecosystem as little as possible. If woods must be cleared or a field plowed up or a swamp turned into a pond, make the effort to find out what the impact will be on the ecosystem and modify your plans accordingly, or at least do something to ameliorate the damage. No woodlot should be clearcut for wood, no pond or river overfished, no livestock manure allowed to run directly into a water source. The placement of a house and outbuildings should be carefully considered. It is acceptable, in an emergency, to kill a predator that is attacking your helpless animals, but it should be done quickly and cleanly, and only if there is no way to permanently scare it away. Whenever possible, work in harmony with the land.
The land-wights should be respected, revered, and consulted often. It can be better to listen to your land-wight about your land-stewarding practices than to guess and fish about. The land-spirits know when something is out of balance, and they will tell you. It is a good idea to set up a shrine to them, and visit it often.
If you are a lay member, you can begin to upgrade your lifestyle to a more sustainable one. Recycle, use secondhand items, fix things yourself or barter for repair, garden organically, conserve resources and energy, utilize alternative energy if possible, drive a more earth-friendly car, be aware of the ecosystem around your home, and talk to the land-wights. Live lighter on the earth. Let your footsteps vanish behind you.
[Order of the Horae]