Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Monday, January 13, 2014
Do you remember the buzz these two Berkeley kids created by selling a box of coffee grounds that will grow tasty mushrooms? When our box gave up its last oysters, I took the mycelium and inoculated our garden with it. This year, I'm being rewarded with some new oyster mushrooms!
Adding mushrooms to a raised bed garden is simple. do a little research and learn what sort of stuff your desired mushroom grows upon (oysters: oak, maple) and stuff some of the host material into the moist corners of your garden. Prep it well (make it good and wet, in most cases). Buy plugs, or look for living mycelia. Inoculate the host matter... and then wait. In a year or less you might have a new, renewable source of mushrooms!
BTW, did you notice how low effort this is?
Not all Small and Tiny homes are sustainable; they actually range in a broad spectrum from achieving high sustainability to not being sustainable at all… Many are sustainable because they use recycled, upcycled and minimal amounts of building material; with small space comes a smaller internal envelope, making heating and cooling less energy intensive; and by living the Small-Space lifestyle occupants generally consume and waste less store-bought products, further helping to reduce the planet’s overall carbon footprint. Sustainability in Small and Tiny home culture is a spectrum of principles and ethics based on the idea being mindful in how we interact with our personal and global environments’, which hopefully carries forward to our interactions with others.
The issues that work against Small and Tiny home design is that the Small-Space lifestyle does not suit people who have a lot of stuff, or are not in a financial position to make life changes, it is not reasonable to ask or expect people get rid of stuff or change their psyche to live in a small space. Additionally the cost of permits to legalize Trailer (Tiny) homes and Shipping container homes by California building codes is so expensive that the investment building these places is usually not worth the return. Other states are different and have more permissive building codes. For people who want to live mindfully of environmental issues not everyone needs to live in a small space. There are numerous options in larger types of architecture that allow an occupant to live by sustainability principles.
However, building-out small and tiny livable space can be a labor of love! To work with steel and convert an old shipping container into an appealing, attractive industrial looking guest room; to craft wood and colorfully paint a delightful Tiny home on a trailer frame; or construct an endearing artsy cottage from cob, cord wood, glass, or earth bags, these buildings have a charm and value separate than improving property values and wholly separate than living by ethics of environmental mindfulness, rather they can evoke a sense of artistic pleasure and are a form of interactive art that inspires awareness of how we relate to our surroundings.
Sustainable Spectrum - Design Ideals for Small or Tiny homes1) Uses an Independent energy source, solar, wind, geothermal, etc. (off the grid)
2) Has a high insulative total R- value, design has a low energy intensive foot print.
3) Lots of recycled and upcycled materials used. Minimal new building material used in construction and maintenance.
4) Any building materials used are non-toxic (or minimally toxic) to environment as they break down over time.
5) All materials used are locally built, manufactured and acquired. Materials used are manufactured with sustainable philosophies as much as possible. (No stuff manufactured in China)
6) Reduced square footage, which creates a low potential for occupants to consume large amounts of household products.
7) Waste water recapturing systems (grey water) and organic methods of processing black water.
8) Food garden, either indoor or outdoor integrated into the home’s design.
9) Positive feel and character, pleasing aesthetics, which creates a wholesome ambiance for the occupant when interacting with the living space.
Friday, January 10, 2014
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I'm capturing some of this work over at Three Feet of Air.
Dave Harris is a Contractor, Builder, Maker, Solutionist, and Sustainability enthusiast. Together, we just might rock the local Green Scene.
Why does Sonoma County need yet more info and exposure to how to live more gently on the planet? Don't you already follow Transition Town Sebastopol? Perhaps our perspective from keeping one foot in the coming age and one foot in the passing age will be entertaining.
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
It's a time of renewal for me.
At the global level, I believe this is the calm before the storm: in the next few months we will begin to feel the effects of Japan's calamity all over the world. Everywhere I go I am making mental catalogs of available resources, noting how resilient the locals are, and participating in conversations around helping those in need while also caring for ourselves.
I wasn't sure about whether any of this belonged on "The Home of the Future" but as I move into this new incarnation of the work I can see that it does.
Right now, today, I am eating these berries as I look at this broken swimming pool and imagine how to convert it to aquaculture using onsite materials.
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Monday, May 23, 2011
A big part of sustainability is being careful what I buy at the store so that I have less stuff to throw away.
Tonight I removed about 20 pounds of compostible (food) waste from the kitchen and another 10 or so recyclable packaging.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011
My neighbor Jess writes a nice article that includes how to make pesto from nasturtiums. She's pretty keen on something she's calling "weed gardening." It's a technique of noticing what is growing really well in the margins of your yard, and using that as food. She made a successful quiche from sow thistle, for example.
Monday, April 04, 2011
Guest post by Krista Peterson
Sure, everyone seems to be getting out and going “green” these days. From driving hybrid cars to living vegan lifestyles, many people are taking different steps towards better living throughout the world recently. In the area of green building, using these types of building materials can be not only beneficial in cost effectiveness and sustainability, but also in some more important areas. Minor substitutions and green materials used in the building process can be particularly beneficial in improving overall health and cutting down on the risk of disease for the future.
Paint is often one of the primary materials throughout a building or remodeling process. What many people are unaware of is that most common paints are high in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which present health risks and threats to air quality when constantly inhaled. Given the repeated exposure that would be likely during a remodeling or building process, the associated health risks with VOC’s are a possibility for builders and remodelers. The range of health problems can span from extremely minor to some more permanent and long term issues. Repeated exposure to VOC’s have been shown to sometimes lead to health risks such as fatigue, headaches and dizziness, as well as more dangerous risks like kidney or liver damage.
Alternatives for paint products are relatively easy to come by. Most common hardware stores carry great options for normal paint products that are usually high in volatile organic compounds. The best alternative is to look for organic and low-VOC paints. This will certainly reduce risk of exposure and health risk.
Insulation can also be a great way to replace potentially toxic products with green building materials, while reducing health risks in the process. Many older homes, up until the 1970’s and 1980’s were built using asbestos as a common material in insulation purposes for houses and buildings. Unfortunately, although being extremely versatile and trustworthy as a building material. Asbestos began to be known as one of the primary developers in health problems such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, respiratory problems and other minor issues such as fatigue and dizziness. While both of these may seem inconsequential as far as health problems, the other risks are not to be taken lightly. For example, mesothelioma life expectancy is usually only between eight and 14 months after diagnosis. Having older homes checked for asbestos in the insulation and looking for new alternatives can be a major step towards better overall health. Even in the case that asbestos may not be a problem for your individual house, insulation is a great option for green building because of its ability to increase a home’s sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint, while still being cost effective.
Green options in insulation present some of the best forms of sustainability in houses today. As previously mentioned, making the switch to these green options can certainly decrease possible health risks, but they can also be high in sustainability and extremely cost effective at the same time. Some of the options in green insulation include the use of cellulose and lycnene. Cellulose is usually the most popular form of green insulation. It’s made from 80 percent of recycled paper and parts of newspaper, and comes complete without the dangers of formaldehyde. It’s also one of the cheapest options of green insulation as well. Lycnene is a form of spray foam insulation that is often the most sustainable form. Because it’s sprayed into seeps and cracks, its ability to keep air trapped in the house is excellent.
Certainly there are other easy steps that can be taken to help out in green insulation, but these two are some great ones to look at, primarily because of their ability to replace products that may have health risks, while still adding to the overall sustainability of the home.