For the good eyed/attentive person, a certain thing might have become increasingly clear as of late; the anomaly I am reffering is that despite reported "increased efforts" on environmental pollution, global poverty, biodiversity decline, energy security and rising food prices, have all kept deteriorating rather than improving or even staying stagnant. As such, even for the average joe or jenny from the block, it becomes more and more clear that the way on how we are handling these problems must certainly not be the most efficient one and that, perhaps, organisations (and indeed, the nation itself) should take on another angle or even adress things entirely differently. Having seen quite enough of the problems at hand (see the lengthier version of my experiences at the text file added), I tried figuring out a way on how we ourselves can alter our lifestyle and decrease these problems decribed. In the process, I also figured out a way on how we can make our (urban) life more simple and make ourselves and our environment more healthy aswell. Perhaps that, with these measures, and if enough people are willing, we may change the current society of Takers alltogether (atleast to some degree) and still be in time to avoid the biggest environmental damage. If not, then things will turn bleak indeed and we might end up
-destroying the planet's life support systems which we need to survive (eg trees which filter the air, rivers to provide our water, ...)
- moving towards a unhospitable planet in which violence, illeteracy, insecurity and a worsoning economic situation are a plenty.
Step 1: (Re-)assesment and Gathering of Reading and Construction Materials Required
This first step in the instructable is inmediatly also going to be your last (you will return here in 5mins and you'll be rereading this very same line). Now that you have reviewed the steps in this instructable, you will need to asses on what you are going to execute and thus what reading/construction materials you are going to need. Decide on whether or not you are going to get a (64-bit) umpc or subnotebook (eg Asus Eee PC 901, digital textbook, ...) (to reduce the flood of information). If so, we may inmediatelly use it in this lifestyle-change project and go and get one. We can then buy all books we will need inmediatelly in electronic format. We make sure we get a working internet internet connection on this device to access websites as Green Living Ideas, PESwiki Home Generation, aeprojects.tk, ecofrugalism, Wikipedia, The Big Green Idea, 2CNetwork, Treehugger.com, ... Also, we will download the required software tools to read the zipped documents added along (eg 7-zip and openoffice or staroffice).
Books and reading you may want to gather are VillageEarth AT Sourcebook (freely downloadable), EarthShip Volume 1, 2, ..., The Okinawa Program by Bradley Willcox, The Anti-Aging Plan by Roy Walford, ... Also make sure you read my own designs and get a full list of websites from the documents in my zip-file (refer to the Autonomous Home System Map and the CountryMeasures-map). This zip-file will probably prove indespensable to help us in our quest. Extra information (if required) may also be obtained from dvd's and/or from real-life people/model homes (eg trough appropriate technology organisations as Practical Action, ..., homesteads as The New House farm, Integral Urban House, ....).
Construction materials you may require include things like the completed, (commercially bought) cuttings-starting and/or seed starting greenhouses, hot water heating systems, water collection systems (eg rainwater harvesting systems), power sources as wind turbines and/or PV-solar panel(s), ... (!Refer to the drawings in step 6 to get a general overview of the systems required and/or to understand what they are/do !) Another approach you may opt for is to construct most of these things (or atleast a part of it) do-it-yourself. This will decrease costs tremendously (depending on how you execute it). Things you may require then are: stuff like nails, screws and washers, wind turbine magnets, hot water piping, ... Following is an example of a diy wind turbine; more diy examples and plans to construct the other systems diy can be obtained trough the PESwiki Home Generation website, BuildItSolar, Appropedia and the Wikipedia. Order the materials required in advance trough websites as Ebay, speciality shops as ForceFieldMagnets, JourneytoForever, or fetch them from civic amenity sites, the freecycle network, auto recycling (or "junk") yards, ... Hackerspaces, Fab labs and repair cafés finally may also prove helpful, for example to custom-make specific parts. Junkyards may be used to obtain windturbine-magnets, diy car-construction parts, solar hot water system piping, electrical piping, ... Depending on the local availability of parts in these 'supply-stores', we may also somewhat change/finetune our choice of the diy power source (eg windturbine, PV-system, ...) or other systems (solar hot water system, ...) to be put in place.
Reflect into the fact that depending on the amount of lifestyle changes/work you wish to agree to, you will be able to achieve anything in between a moderate to a larger postive environmental influence. You will also be able to achieve a smaller to again larger financial gain (in the midterm to long run). Deciding to be bold (with the same level of determination as Harrison Ford (in The Mosquito Coast) when he said Goodby America! (And Have a Nice Day!)" is certainly to be picked over merely believing that the measures will have a second to none influence in your life/environment (hereby preferring a lighter change and thus again continuing along the road we are taking now). As mentioned in the extra text-file in my intro, atleast I will prefer the more radical approach and I will accept anyone who joins me. I hereby declare my own quest for Brahmacharya opened and hope to achieve my vision of a greater, coordinated response on the issues mentioned.
Step 2: Recycling
- it will help us to be more considerate/prudent next time and not be such an easy buyer (buying things we don't really need or which we can't make 100% use off.
- we can rest assured that the materials will be recycled properly and not just dumped somewhere
Especially the attic will be a good starting location for most to obtain materials we can sent in for recycling. We'll collect stuff as old clothing, blankets, audio and videotapes, old paper, books and magazines, .... After scavenging these, we can remove them from our house, and once again have a usable space (which can be given a new and more usable/profitable purpose; eg for the storage of seed sometimes required for our food production system, ...).
Step 3: Setting Up Your Food System (part 1)
In the coming month or so, we'll try to find alternatives to foods we've liked and replace them. Examples are:
- replacing drinks as cola, lemonade, sugared ice tea, ... by light soups, teas, coffee, mate, karkade, ...
and replacing (subtropical/tropical) fruit as melons, guava, pineapples by pears, blueberries, apples, ... We will do this it are foodstuffs which we will not be able to cultivate at our home food production system we will prepare on making (in step 6). 'PS note that in some circumstances honey and certain sweeteners as Stevia and liquorice may however be produced, giving some options in retaining certain sweet drinks.
To set-up our system, we will also try to find the most co2-lean alternatives. Looking for vegan, macrobiotic, certain fruitarian/raw food, ... subsitutes for our previous foods (as tofu, seitan, tempeh, and other meat analogues) is probably a good approach. In addition, we may get our first info from The USDA the food pyramid (old version) and the new version. This pyramid may be altered with other diets as the Okinawa-diet, Gandhi-diet, CRON-diet, ... Diets as these have slightly other portions and set-ups than the original USDA recommendations. They also allow increased cost reduction and environmental advantage.
To get the first insights on how we are going to get things up and running we'll look into books as the anti-aging plan, Joel Fuhrman's Eat to live, the Okinawa-program (you may first rent them from the library and review them to save expenses). In addition, we may once again look to our PESwiki page and review to some of the examples given by other self-sufficient/autonomous buildings (eg the Integral Urban House, ...). You may finally also take a look at my own food-production set-up from the zip file added at step 1 and 6. (see autonomous home system-map), Finally, we'll also take a look at a working example from another professor from our Instructable-labs which has created a working example.
In addition, we will measure our caloric requirements and optimal weight. We may do so by skinfold measurements, densiometry, and/or bioelectrical impedance analysis. With these, we can perfectly dimension our food system to generate no more produce than required, or we can use it to know how much food/nutrients to obtain from dumpsters, ... (calories are always mentioned on the labels). Usually, no more than 2000 kcal are required for a normal person per day and a BMI of 17.7 (which too was Ghandi's BMI) may be sufficient. In addition, we will look ahead and remind ourselves that if we would like to go live in a tropical/subtropical country (see step 5), the amount of meals or caloric content of the food is to become lowered (this, as our calorie requirements will be less due to a increased ambient temperature) and that we are to wear more clothing instead. Note that dressing up better and/or decreasing our meals may also be done in favor of the environment (and/or our wallet). This as it allows us to decrease our energy requirements and or the amount of space heating we require. This concept is also much applied by the homeless (true survival experts!), and as such, we may rest assured that it works.
An alternative to the food production system may also be to start plain dumpster diving, foraging or other subsistance techniques and/or use organic material found in the city dumpsters to vermicompost and provide our foodplants with high-grade fertiliser (make sure you have permission). Note that aldough all of these latter techniques will allow us to decrease costs and attain environmental benefits, they will not provide some of the other advantages noted with the home food production system.
After a month or so, we'll have figured out what foods we like and we'll return on this topic (unless offcourse you are opting for the alternatives noted as plain dumpster diving, ...).
Step 4: Get a Green Job And/or Endeavor
Depending on what we desire, we may browse trough several websites as VolunteerMatch and World Volunteer Web, ARC, Treehugger, ....
In our search for a job, we will think ahead and evaluate not only exactly what we would like as job, but also where(what location) we would like to execute it. This may sound no more than obvious, but all too often we let fear and exagerated dependance (eg on family, on "whats known", ...) stand in the way. We should however remind ourselves that it's our life and that we decide what to do with it. Just as Will Smith said (in The Pursuit of Happiness), if you want something, you go and get it! If not, we may not live our life out full and we will not perform well in our environmental job neither (which too is not good for our planet). Offcourse, we cannot know how life is to differ to each country, so we may opt to evaluate things steadily (eg by short volunteering trips or other (environmentally sound) non-permanent tryouts).
Step 5: Get and Arrange Your Shelter in Function of Your Residence and Job
- primarily in function to your job; which as mentioned needs should be best chosen in function of the environment
- again, secondly in a location you actually want to live in.
Getting a shelter can be done as simply as by looking for an old (empty) industrial building/complex and renting it (this may be done even in Europe for as little as 200$/month). Such large buildings may be shared by an entire group of fellow roomies/co-payers. In addition, complete abandoned villages may be usurped (dough this will require a fair amount of planning and is best done with a large group of decision-makers; see the open-letters in the zip file).
Another way on how you can make sure you will always be able to choose your own location of residence (and even change it easier later) is to fix up a stranded boat (many lay washed ashore at the coasts of Africa and in the developing world) and modify it to become a a boat suitable for living in. (! Again, refer to the open-letters provided in my zip-file with this article for more info !) Note that the boats may be equipped with environmental/zero-emission engines or other techniques (eg sails) and that they may even be fitted with self-sufficiency systems). Besides damaged boats, confiscated boats by the Navy, old fishing boats, ... may also be obtained (purchased) at a low cost. Engine conversion and rigging the vehicle with self-sufficiency systems may probably also be executed with large (school) buses (which too may be bought cheaply). The latter may probably be done by adding PV-panels on the roof of the bus (for recharging) and wiring it to a energy source as a battery (which will allow eg running the vehicle and things as cooking). However, as buses are to make but a small home, extra provisions as an imbedded food production (with nutrient recycling) may be hard to implement.
Finally, other techniques may be applied to obtain houses which lay unused in cities, but most of these can generally not be executed due to reasons of ownership issues and certain testify of weak leadership.
Step 6: Set-up of Our Shelter's Life Support Systems and Zero-emission Transportation System
- first of all finish our domestic food production system. Now that some time has passed, we have figured out our personal taste/preference and we know what foodstuffs we feel comfortable basing our system on. We choose a staple crop we like, and with the help of the books and websites mentioned in step 1 and 3, we set-up your system. We will try implementing a composting toilet and integrate nutrient recycling in our food production system (this will keep costs low and eliminates the need of much water; which reduces the size of your water collection system).
Next is our energy generation (or "microgeneration") system. Using the websites (eg PESwiki, Wikipedia, Treehugger, ...), books, dvd's, ... mentioned in step 1, we'll set up this too. (! Again refer to the zip file for extra reference; see the "Autonomous Home System"-map !). As mentioned before, we can reduce costs of this system by deciding to leave out energy storage, and include a hook-up unto the net (trough net metering). In addition, a DIY power source (eg wind turbine) may be build (dough cheap commercial ones are available too). Due to the very cheap (and totally green) electricity we will now be able to get, we may can start making more use of certain (electrically-powered) domestic devices (to simplify our lives). These include dishwasher (mentioned below) and clothes dryer (a small one may already do however). Especially in northern and rainy countries (where sunshine is not always present), the use of such a clothes dryer is a more handy alternative to clothes lines (no need to go outside in the wind or cold; no hanging up the clothes in between rains and hoping the wash will be dry enough in time, ...).
As a third system, we may want to install a rainwater harvesting or other water collection system (trough rainwater harvesting). Peer trough the Wikipedia, PESwiki, Instructables, ... to determine a appropriate system and how to build it. Usually a regular rainwater harvesting system (without greywater treatment) is sufficient, which can be build DIY and at very low cost. Depending on local circumstances and your intented use of the water itself (drinking or irrigation, flushing toilets, ...), treatment of the water may or may not be necessairy. In order to make our life less complicated, decrease costs even further and increase our self-sufficiency, we will, however make use of a dishwasher. As recompensation for our (possible) increased use of resources with this dishwasher, we will introduce using natural cleaning products (eg by Ecover) instead of chemical cleaning products. To be able to do so and still get everything washed clean enough, we'll abide with some extra trouble and rinse the dishes with water inmediatly after dinner (so that eating remains as oils, sugars, ...) do not get a chance to attach (strongly) to the dishes.
A fourth change we may implement in our home is to start using zero-emission home appliances. These zero-emissionhome appliances primarily include space heating appliances (eg heat pumps, radiators, convectors, ...), and cooking devices (eg electric and inductioncookers, solar cookers, ...). Besides these, they also include equipment as electrical refridgerators, electrical lawn mowers (if used, see step 9), ...
We will change to these zero-emission versions of our home appliances as burning oil, gas, coals, oils (eg biofuels) or wood are environmentally polluting, spark health problems (eg cancer) and as they are changing the planet so that food production will soon start to decrease or even fail (hereby increasing food prices and allowing famines to occur in the developing world). Thus, in order to make sure we are not part of the problem, we will be checking whether our devices work on such polluting resources and buy new equipment -or convert- our present equipment accordingly. We can rest assured that aldough some devices as fireplaces and barbecues will probably need to discarded, most will not (as most people already use electrical versions of refridgerators, lawn mowers, stoves, ...). If this is however not the case for you personally, go ahead and alter the described space heating, cooking and other domestic appliances. We may alter our devices by buying electrically-powered radiators and convectors, heat pumps, electrical and/or solar cookers, ... Alternatively, we may (as described above) also keep certain devices and convert them instead so that they may become emissionless (by now using electricity as a power source). PS: A practical example is the radiator; which works on hot water, warmed-up by a external heater. This heater may be converted to use electrical heating elements instead of other, polluting resources (eg gas, fossil fuels, biofuels, ..).
To reduce our expenses required for these changes, and to reduce our living costs on the long run, we may also implement passive heating techniques (as eg the use of many windows, trombe walls, ...), increased insolation (as rockwool, or the cheaper straw-bales, ...) or even use heat and cold storage with our heat pump, earth sheltering, ... in our house. To do so, we will again use the Wikipedia, PESwiki, ... and take again a look at my zip-file (the open-field food system document and suggestions on the environment document provide info). In addition, books and other media noted at step 1 may also be used.
Finally, we'll change the way we are getting around so that we can make use of zero-emission transport alternatives. We will do this primarily in function of the environment , our (and our neighbours) health, ethical and humanitarian reasons (see above), and to decrease our financial expenses (bicycles, compressed air vehicles, bicycles fitted with trailers, ... are way cheaper in operation). We will keep in mind our intentions (for what purpose will we be needing a personal vehicle (heavy lifting, transport of many people or just to transport ourselves, ...) and not use any vehicle (or other mode of transport; eg communal transport, ...) which is larger than what we require. We will do this as picking vehicles too large for our needs allows the streets to be clogged bit by bit, hereby provoking traffic jams. As we all know, traffic jams are not much fun and make our life increasingly difficult; hereby giving us reason to opt for smaller vehicles when we are forced to pick one (these are btw easier to park aswell).
We may opt to change our mode of transport and/or reduce our vehicle's size as our lifestyle and thus your transport requirements may already have been changed (eg with a food production system at home, no more trips to the supermarket by car will be necessairy). Again refer to the websites mentioned in step 1 (eg Wikipedia, Treehugger, Green Living Ideas, ... Also, take a look at my zip-file (CountryMeasures-map; document "carfree world" and "suggestions on the environment") for additional websites/information. Some exemplary options you could consider include roller skates and heelies, skybocks, compressed air scooters and bicycles over one and 2-seater velomobiles to electric, hydrogen and compressed air cars, certain types of (electric/human powered) public transport, ... If a private (3 or 4-wheeled) transport vehicle is still required (to haul larger items, many people, ... or to live in or camp with; see step 5), you may opt to buy a regular freight bicycle (or buy a trailer to attach to your bicycle), cycle rickshaw, auto-rickshaw, special cabin cycle (as eg the Carver, and Quasar), mini- or large (school) bus (lots of space, low-cost) and convert it to electric, to hydrogen, oxyhydrogen or liquid nitrogen ICE, compressed air, or hydrogen fuel cell or Flywheel Energy Storage-powered engine (which are all emissionless). Keep in mind that aldough conversion to hydrogen, oxyhydrogen or liquid nitrogen ICE could be cheaper, it could be a bit difficult in practice. Alternatively, you could even build a diy car (from kits or entirely custom made; as eg with the locost-car), or sand rail/buggy yourself. These diy-conversions and/or diy vehicle building options are however only possible if you live in a country where this is legally allowed (traffic rules).
Step 7: Reducing the Useless Information Flood + Usage of SI Units and Latin Names
-trough the increased paper requirements and provisioning of useless news and advertising (which we throw away as soon as we get it), lots of paper is wasted and environmental damage occurs.
- the channels we are watching are usually not the most representative (we usually watch local news instead of eg CNN). This may reduce our level of knowledge, decrease our trade skills, ...
- as allot of the news/media coming in to our homes literally "floods" us, it makes our lives more complicated and disrupts our degree of "peace and quiet". As such, we'll spend poor in some time adressing this problem at the roots.
To begin, we'll be placing a "No advertisements"-tag on our mailbox, hereby making sure atleast our (non-electronic) mailbox is handled; next we will change which other kind of media and how of it is coming in.
Herefore, we will cut our cable connection from our tv (for the more radical minded, TV may also be discarded completely, by using the UMPC-alternative mentioned furtherup). In addition, we'll cut our analogue radio connection. We ll replace these by alternatives as a satellite tv-connection + tv (buy a satellite dish + decoder herefore) and internet radio. In addition, we may buy a UMPC or other portable computing device to receive internet access (both at home and when on the move). When using this device on the move, we make sure we have it equipped with a mobile WiFi receiver for long-range WiFi-connections (eg trough a waveguide antenna, cantenna or wokfi). Alternatively, we use a stationairy long-range WiFi antenna when we use it indoors. In both cases, we will connect trough a completely free WLAN (see Free-Hotspots.com). Free wireless LAN's are today springing up more and more and provide us with an easy and legal way of getting our required media (news, weather, internet information, digital reading/books trough eg digital libraries, ...). In addition to companies taking the initiative to provide us with free internet access, we ourselves may do so aswell (eg trough the approach followed by Free-hotspot.com and/or FON. Given the thus great availability of free internet-access points (receivable for us unto many kilometers as we use long-range receivers), we can rest assured that we may fulfill in our requirements at this cheap/easy method for many years to come (and probably forever).
Besides this, we will also inmediatelly start switching to use international (or SI) units (time indications should ideally be changed too) and replace our use of regular names for species in nature (fungi, plants (eatable and non-eatable), animals, ...) to latin names. This, in the intrest of simplifying our lives (latin names for crops, ... are the same in all languages, UT-time indication is this too, ...) aswell as to increase our economy and trade. Increasing economy and trade will make sure that both the environment and the poor may take advantage. (! Refer to the Sustainable society document in my zip-file for more information on how this may works in practice !). In practice, this would mean that instead of using eg "tomato", we would use "Solanum lycopersicum", and instead of using degrees Fahrenheit, we would use Kelvin. Aldough at first glance, this change may not sound as a great simplification (rather the opposite), it will, (when we take into account all changes; see above). Remind yourself that not only we'll be helping the environment/ourselves with this, but others (as the poor) aswell. In addition to using SI measures and latin names, we may finally also use an international language more often (eg English). Ideally we should be using an international language all the time, but as of yet, this might not be practical enough).
Step 8: Increasing Our Health and Relaxing
- allow ourselves to get our minds of things, relax and clear deep thoughts/thinking. Hereby, we will keep things into perspective and also simplify our lives aswell
- increase, as mentioned, our physical capability and hereby the efforts we can put in place for the environment and community
We will commence with the muscular and breathing exercices. Aldough you may want to create your own set of exercices, a general exercice-plan which could be followed is provided at the pictures added with this instructable. Plan them in the morning so that you may include additional exercices (if needed for you to feel good) at the late afternoon. Changing the way of eating (amount of meals, portion sizes..) and what you eat (tofu instead of eg porkchops; see step 3) may already increase your physique and you may feel already in well enough shape to no longer need these exercices. However, generally some extra exercices are still required to remain fit or to achieve the best results (atleast if you have a desk job).
Depending on your own physical charisteristics (metabolism, muscles and longs, ...) the muscular/breathing exercices shown in the pictures may or may not give you increased physique and resilience. If they are for some way not proving to give you any such result, change the exercices or perhaps look for other ones (eg Tai Chi Chuan-exercices, yoga-exercices, ...)
In addition we may:
- start breathing deeper (in your regular breathing) during the course of the day; this will give you even more energy. Refer to the drawings for more info.
- stop using couches and chairs. Practice knee-sitting and the use of a pillow (to sit on) instead. We may use a low-table in the house for eating and other day-to-day practicalities (as sometimes seen in TV-documentaries on Japanese traditions). Practising knee-sitting is not only better for our back, ligaments and general health, but also limits financial costs tremendously (no more expensive leather couches or other seats required !). Note that a dozen of sitting positions may be used (hereby thus not being a gimmick, but an actual alternative)
-attain a good walking position during the coarse of the day (see pictures)
-attain a good sleeping position: getting a good sleeping position increases your body's long capacity and allows your body to recover after a hard day
Step 9: Execute the Measures, Get New Activities and Join Our Healing Web
A new activity you can first devote yourself to (inmediatelly after executing the measures described) is to arrange your garden ecologically. By this I mean putting in stuff as xeriscaping techniques, mulches, trees and plants native to the environment, gravel pathways, shelters for natural predators (eg turnaround flowerpots for dermaptera-species, ...). This will get our garden less labour-intensive (simplifying life for us some more) and will improve nature. After this, we may pick up gardening (which will be reduced to the fun stuff; thus eg berry picking and espaliering instead of mowing lawns) as a next activity to keep healthy, sun-covered and occupied. An alternative (which is environmentally better) is to completely discard our garden and replace it with the plants of our food cultivation system. Any remaining "garden" may be then be transformed to a natural environment, where our animal/insect friends may gather. This space, (aswell as all other areas around; thus even city gardens and city benches) may then be used for us to function as a garden (without any work).
A next activity you may devote yourself to is to join me in on my quest to create the environmental community I am envisioning. You may do so in practice by a series of suggestions given in the text document linked below. I am guessing that this activity could be valuable for the environment aswell as for you personally. A website has been launched for this purpose. You may offcourse also contact me directly trough my e-mail adress (environmentalprojects AT gmail DOT com).
In addition, if you still have time open (doubtable as you may also now be doing morning exercices, ...), you could also execute some of the environmental diy-projects from our compatriots at Instructables, Make, ... or set-up your own and or finally, play dice, card or board games as peralikatuma, RISK, or pachisi (the latter being offcourse less constructable).
I hope to see you around soon !