Category: building


You’ve probably heard of this guy already here or here, but if not, Daniel Suelo deserves a shout-out. He’s lived 9 years in a cave in Utah, surviving on dumpster diving, foraging and occasionally hunting, and he blogs about it here.

Great article in the NYT about how environmentally friendly straw houses are, but then the twist: they’re great in an earthquake!

straw-bale-home-1

I have written before about straw building here, that time inspired by the New Orleans Common Ground Collective, who was using straw bale building as a cheap way to house returning Orleaneans.

Nothing inspires me more than this kind of thinking and utilization of resources!! 🙂

floor

Just in case you weren’t convinced that our synthetic surroundings were causing you cancer and countless other illnesses, here’s an article from treehugger stating the following disturbing findings:

TreeHugger has been reporting for years about the dangers of phthalates, the endocrine disruptor that is used to make vinyl flexible. We have noted previously that it might cause “phthalate syndrome”- smaller penises, and undescended or incompletely descended testicles- in humans…

But NOW:

Now a new study links it to autism. Scientific American says that the Swedish study was looking for something else, a relationship between phthalates and allergies, but found that “Infants or toddlers who lived in bedrooms with vinyl, or PVC, floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later, in 2005, than those with wood or linoleum flooring.”

The BBC reports on the severe consequences that will come if we use the economic crisis as an excuse to ignore the need for sustainable agriculture and living, and the fight against Global Warming.

As the UN prepares to assess the Millennium Development Goals this week, will tension between the consumption of the North and the development of the South doom both to a future of crises and scarcity? Felix Dodds and Michael Strauss argue that allowing the Millennium Goals and their environmental aims to slide would be a false economy.

This week is the 8th anniversary of the first conference on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which focused on “nutrition, energy, water, education, healthcare and environmental protection for one half of the world’s one billion poorest citizens, by 2015.”

The article discusses how two converging crises have put increasing pressure on meeting these goals. The first being the food crisis, with the price of food almost doubling since 2007 and the second being the American financial crisis, which has sent ripple effects across the globe.

This article does a great job of offering an objective, omniscent view of the issues at hand. We cannot let our fears and immediate concerns interfere with trying to solve the issues that remain the basis for these crises.

The BBC reports today that downtown Detroit is taking new shape with a rash of urban gardens.
In a town which symbolizes the rust belt, left over from the car industry, a new group Urban Farming has taken it upon themselves to breath some life into the city.

Visiting one of the largest allotments, on a site that had been derelict since Detroit’s infamous 1967 riots, locals spoke about an astonishing transformation.

Derelict streets highlight Detroit’s tough past and present

“There is something that every hand in this area can do,” said Rose Stallard, who is keen to enlist as many volunteers as possible to help tend the garden and its precious crops.

Urban gardening has grown hugely since the onset of the concern over Global Warming, but what is remarkable is how versatile and mutlitalented it is. Community gardens have been reported to help nearby residents economically and socially as well as easing racial and gender divides and building community and lowering crime. Natural is the answer friends!

Gotta love Youtube. Here’s a DIY (how can you resist?) on making a generator from solar and hydro energy.

Ck’s Weblog posted “50 ways to Help the Planet.” Awesome!

Here’s a clip:

* DON’T RINSE
Skip rinsing dishes before using your dishwasher and save up to 20 gallons of water each load. Plus, you’re saving time and the energy used to heat the additional water.

* DO NOT PRE-HEAT THE OVEN
Unless you are making bread or pastries of some sort, don’t pre-heat the oven. Just turn it on when you put the dish in. Also, when checking on your food, look through the oven window instead of opening the door.

*RECYCLE GLASS
Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose.

* DIAPER WITH A CONSCIENCE
By the time a child is toilet trained, a parent will change between 5,000 and 8,000 diapers, adding up to approximately 3.5 million tons of waste in U.S. landfills each year. Whether you choose cloth or a more environmentally-friendly disposable, you’re making a choice that has a much gentler impact on our planet.

*HANG DRY
Get a clothesline or rack to dry your clothes by the air. Your wardrobe will maintain color and fit, and you’ll save money. Your favorite t-shirt will last longer too.

*GO VEGETARIAN ONCE A WEEK
One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. For example: It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. You will also also save some trees. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.

I’ve found some great little projects with which to use found materials or your own trash and turn it into something beautiful!
At DIYNetwork, we have recycled planters, using paint cans, cinder blocks or old jello molds.

Instructables (love that site) has a simple and free self-watering planter which you can also do with 2L soda bottles.
Here’s an example of the 2L at groovygreen.com.


And last but not least, a fun video on a self-watering 5 gallon pail