Sustainable Living Skills You Need to Survive
It might not seem so serious to the average consumer in the First World, but the future of the world as we know hangs in the balance. The media is full of bad news that can make changing things for the better seem hopeless, but there are simple and radical things you can do to reduce your impact and set an example for others. It's not just a choice, our survival depends on it.
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Despite the benefits a city can offer, city life can be stressful and polluted with both noise and light, all of which means people are having more trouble sleeping than ever. I used to have insomnia all the time when I lived in the city, and even when over the counter sedatives wouldn’t work I found that the gentle effect of a homemade herbal tincture would do the trick.
I made a valerian, hops, and chamomile tincture blend that served as a great sleeping potion to relax me enough to help me drift off at night. This spring I found a bunch of volunteer valerian growing in my garden so I thought it was time to make some more sleeping potion. I sleep really soundly most nights at Dancing Rabbit, but I figure I can send some of this to friends who live in the city, and it’s always good to have some on hand just in case.
Every year before the season starts I like to hit the Asian grocery store, not only to pick up my year’s supply of ingredients (since I live so far away from everything) but to get some plant stock to propagate for my garden. There are two plants I get every year–lemon grass and ing chai, or ong choy. Years ago I learned that I could grown my own of both of these useful plants from simple cuttings anyone can buy at their local Asian grocery store. Though native to tropical regions, these two plants have many uses and will produce prolifically, even in temperate regions. Like tomatoes and peppers though, they can only be grown as annuals in colder regions.
I made it home to Dancing Rabbit and I found my fruit trees were blooming abundantly, but they still needed pruning. This is a little tour of what was happening in my yard (or warren at DR) as far as my permaculture plantings. In the last couple of years I’ve planted many new useful plants even as the established fruit trees have come into full production. One of the great things about permaculture is that minimal care is needed to maintain plantings, if it’s done right. Pruning my trees is pretty much the only care they need during the season, aside from some pest control. I don’t have to work up the soil, weed, or even water. And these trees will produce more fruit than I can even use myself.
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April and Ziggy built this gorgeous, yet simple straw bale house in Berea, KY for a friend of theirs. It features many different natural building materials, most of which were found locally. Conventional house construction these days has a huge impact on the planet. Mostly the materials aren’t sustainably sourced, the houses are cookie cutter, and although they may be more efficient in some ways than their predecessors, they cancel out all benefit by taking up an enormous square footage. The house you build largely determines the footprint your lifestyle will have, and this kind of naturally built small house can go a long way toward reducing impact, not only in the materials it consumes in being built, but in impact of the people living in it. Most naturally built houses apply permaculture principles to ensure they are practical, efficient, and sustainable. Aesthetic beauty is often a natural result of employing sustainable techniques.
Check out April and Ziggy’s natural building workshops and sign up way ahead of time because the spots go fast. If you’re not too far from them, they may be able to build a house for you too.
The Tiny House Festival at the St Pete Ecovillage not only featured talks by tiny house builders and tiny house designers, there were tiny house companies and organizations that build tiny houses for the homeless. And then there were the tiny houses themselves–nine tiny houses on wheels that were open for tours. I featured a few of them in the previous video, and I cover five more in this one. These are brief tiny house tours that just give you a taste of what the houses look like and maybe some inspiration for your own tiny house design.
Tiny houses are a big thing in Florida. The St Pete Ecovillage put itself on the map in a lot of ways by hosting their first tiny house festival on April 1st this year. It was a great demonstration of living lighter on the planet and was part of a larger effort to make tiny living more viable in St Petersburg. I was at the festival, since that’s where I was living, and have made a couple videos about my experience.