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Go Green for a Brighter Future

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The overdeveloped western world has no right to consume more resources and produce more pollution than the rest of the world. We can all pass on a secure, abundant and richer future to our children and grandchildren, if our modern lifestyle was less overindulgent.

The overdeveloped western world has no right to consume more resources and produce more pollution than the rest of the world. We can all pass on a secure, abundant and richer future to our children and grandchildren, if our modern lifestyle was less overindulgent.

At a local level, choosing a lifestyle of conservation ultimately addresses global issues, including control and quality of our food supply, depletion of fossil fuels, global warming and climate change, leaving a smaller ecological footprint and noise, water, air and land pollution. Moreover, the way we live can solve problems specific to our community or country, such as the car imperative, urban sprawl, unsafe municipal water supplies, fluoride contamination, construction waste, deregulation and high cost of energy even neighbourhood disintegration, crime and vandalism, bureaucratic mismanagement and loss of democracy. While a conserver lifestyle is not for everyone, many changes are free with more rewards than sacrifices.

The Green House

Taking good care of our immediate surroundings benefits the whole family, and lends to a greater cause the health of neighbourhood, city, country, planet.

Our own home integrates the same people-friendly and highly practical features that our early pioneers enjoyed: a front porch, a central multipurpose masonry heater, refurbished cast-iron bathtub and an independent power source. Yet it's built with modern conveniences healthy materials, green products, energy-efficient construction, appropriate technology and it's ready for a future of fossil-fuel shortages, devastating weather, government deregulation, corporate downsizing, unsafe water, food supply control, to name a few.

Instead of a silly lawn stealing our time, money and resources with noisy and smelly lawn mowers and poisonous synthetic chemicals, our garden provides us with substantial savings, home-grown nutritious food and wholesome exercise. Edible or medicinal plants surround the house on every side. Companion planting, raised beds, natural fertilizers (no harmful pesticides!) and organic gardening are our main building blocks. Moreover, because we grow a lot of our own food, we reduce air pollution and burning of fossil fuels from transporting foods and also reduce our trips to the grocery store.

Conserving Energy

An office at home optimizes our building, infrastructure, energy, comfort, light, resources and security. Our home/office is located on a bus route. We use the car once a week, preferring to walk or take public transit. We don't need to rush to work every morning, only to run back after an exhausting day. We don't use up precious resources keeping the house warm and safe when no one is there during the day and keeping the office secured, lit and heated when it's empty at night.

We turn off the refrigerator in the fall and let the free outdoor cold keep our food fresh in our "cool closet," thus reducing electricity cost and carbon dioxide emissions (from coal burning generators). This also extends the life of our fridge.

We don't overheat the home to tropical temperatures, rather we wear sweaters to keep warm, and in the process heat up the outdoors less. We only heat during the winter, and with solar energy rather than with gas.

Conserving Water

Without water there is no life to sustain the human race. To conserve precious water, we wash whenever we are dirty rather than wasting water on a ritual of morning showers for already clean bodies. We circumvent the chlorine and fluoride added to municipal water by using our own water supply of rainwater.

Our detergent must be safe for marine life, as fish and plants help clean human wastewater. Another way of reusing dirty water consists of two planter boxes in which sub-irrigation channels the dirty water's nutrients to the roots of fruit and vegetables, while the gravel and sand twice filter the water before it returns to the "reuse" water lines throughout the house.

We use a waterless toilet, which also serves as our big "blue box" recycling centre, our organic fertilizer plant and our big (biological) garbage can. When we encounter the water-flushing toilet again, we wonder at people still using precious drinking water for flushing human waste.

Talking the Walk

Twice a month we hold an "Open House." People can see concepts, ideas, features, products and materials for healthy living and a more sustainable future. They see that durability is a hallmark.

The floor is an old-fashioned marmoleum made from flax instead of petroleum. Solid local wood is used throughout rather than thin particleboard. Area rugs of donkey hair or sheep wool adorn the floor instead of wall-to-wall carpets as they are easier to clean, maintain and are a lot healthier. After the visitors have left, we usually have a potluck with resource people, for useful talk, practical learning and community building.

These are just a few insights into how a home can be an integral part of a conserver lifestyle. Our rewards? Annual savings of $4,000 in natural gas utility costs, and a $10 to $25 increase in resale value for every dollar saved in utility bills.

More importantly, living a simple life in a more healthy home translates into meaningful, self-sufficient communities that contribute to safe water, less pollution and protected ecosystems. Only then can we promise our children and grandchildren a brighter future.

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