Earth Day is every day – a Recap of the Last Year and Intentions for the Next
For those of us who think about the Earth all the time, Earth Day can be kind of like New Years. It used to be, when I was living mostly on a 27″ screen attached to a 500W power hog, doing web design in a cushy apartment, Earth Day was a sore reminder that I hadn’t done enough the year before. I could never really feel like anything I did that day was enough to make up for it. Little by little, those experiences added up to the pressing feeling that I needed to do something to change my lifestyle, and it worked. Either way, this day is about celebrating the Earth and how much we love it – not about feeling bad that we’re not doing enough. So I chose this moment to recap and write a little about everything we’ve done since last April, and what we hope to get done before the next Earth Day rolls around. maybe you maybe you can find some ideas in here that you can employ over the next year. If you have any ideas, weigh in on our Facebook page.
- Eating our own produce everyday. We have been steadily cultivating the permaculture garden, and now enjoy things like fresh greens and garlic pretty much year round. Since these are regular additions to all kinds of healthy dishes, we manage to use them every day.
- Used toilet paper from 100% recycled material. We pay into an account with our rent and the landlord orders it in bulk for everybody.
- Found creative new ways to create microclimates, save on watering, combine crops in the same space, mulch and lay beds.
- Counted miles on every drive. I had to, my gas gauge broke (and I didn’t fix it, on purpose slightly). This gives me a close connection to my gas consumption. Idling sitting still and drive throughs are out of the question.
- Starting a farmer’s market booth. We registered at the Port Angeles Farmer’s Market, sold produce, had discussions and passed out information about sustainability. We traded and made connections with other farmers, and even though we didn’t do a full season of it, had an awesome time and learned a lot about the work and planning required to succeed at this.
- Assembled an underground greenhouse. We played with electrical conduit to assemble a 7′ tall structure and made it work as a greenhouse. We took it down to move to a spot that’s still being prepared, but it got upwards of 95 degrees fahrenheit while it was 75 outside.
- Experimented with organic solar power. The controls are still being established to prove it outright, but we have been working on creating truly green solar energy with moss and pond algae, harnessing pure photosynthesis.
- Moved into a tiny house. We have been staying in tiny houses or tiny arrangements in off-grid cabins for almost 2 years now. The house I currently occupy was made with very little materials but stands sturdy against the cold, rain and wind. It heats up rapidly and stays cozy with the potbellied stove, on which I roast squash and cornbread with a dutch oven.
- Set up off-grid solar power. This isn’t our first set-up, but it was the cheapest and quickest thus far to deploy. With a gifted panel and $10 charge controller and $80 battery I have lights and power enough for laptops and phones with no power bill owed to anybody.
- Helped manage an intentional community. I lived in the “main house” on a 120-acre off-grid community, resolving practical and inter-personal conflicts in a democratic fashion. This is an experience I will remember for years and will continue to color many of my human interactions.
- Began using buried sealed jars of water to experiment with moisture condensation due to surface tension through the glass and heat-sinking effect. It has shown success.
There are many more things on the near horizon. Time will tell whether we can do them all before next April, but we will try.
- Build a greenhouse addition to my tiny house. I want to build a passive solar “wing” to my house that will grow crops, raise fish, and help heat my house in the winter. I’m hoping to use partially-underground, Earthship, and geodesic elements in this. Ideally, it will be a stable climate space that I can keep lit and heated through the winter with the help of wood stove, wind generation and rainwater power.
- Building vertical axis wind turbines for all the buildings. In the summertime, there is more than enough power to go around. In the winter, we have resorted to running a gas generator to make enough power to run lights sometimes. As a person concerned with climate change, this is unacceptable to me. The plan for now is to use spare bike wheels to make rooftop generators to make up some of this power lack when the sun isn’t shining, but the wind is moving through.
- Invent rooftop rainwater generators. Imagine collecting all the rain that falls on the roof a typical PNW winter and moving it into a 5 gallon bucket, and periodically dumping that past a propeller that is spinning magnets past a coil, making energy for your house. This or something like it is something we are definitely doing this year.
- Finishing the groundwork for organic solar. We’ve had a lot of success with this project. Now we need to establish controls that can convince scientifically-minded skeptics that what we are witnessing is actually energy from biology itself. From there, we can scale up into full duty applications. Right now, we’re just powering a tiny LED.
- Grow grains and staples. Green produce and potatoes and tomatoes are a few things gardeners usually do, but the plan is to harvest and eat some of our own corn and beans, staples that will store and fill the cabinet spaces and peoples’ bellies after the typical growing season is gone.
- Establish a regular schedule for sustainability doc screenings, workshops and talks. The Raymond Carver Room at the library is perfect, and they just added AV equipment to make expositions there even more attractive. We plan to make use of this and expand our network locally to include hands-on activities for people interested in sustainability.
Thanks for reading! Thanks for doing your part just caring about the Earth. Happy Earth Day everybody, hopefully you spend at least part of it showing your love for this place we all call home – even if that’s just taking a walk and enjoying the scenery with friends and family. Remember, nobody is unimportant and there are no small actions – everything and everyone is related.