Category: Building

Unwanted Chemical Pool Gets Permaculture Makeover

Six months into our pool to pond conversion and the problem really has become the solution. For some time, we had been flirting with the idea of doing something productive with our unwanted 12,000 gallon in-ground swimming pool. It was during my Permaculture design course with Geoff Lawton last year that I decided to commit to a full conversion to an aquaculture wetland. What seemed like my most daunting project […]

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How Dry Composting Toilets Work

Dry composting toilets are an efficient, cyclical way of dealing with human waste without using and/or fouling fresh water, which is in ever-dwindling supply on the planet. Using clean water to flush human excrement sends it into either a septic system, which eventually has to be pumped and the sludge moved to larger facilities where it will then be dealt with, or sewer mains, where it congregates into a horribly […]

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Killer Natural Plaster Recipe

In this article I’m going to share with you my killer recipe for a final plaster that I have used and evolved over the last eight years. The final layer is what you will see day to day, so it’s worth making it nice. If you’re interested in a recipe that is non-toxic, made from easy to find natural materials and has a beautiful finish then read on. I first […]

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Battery Technologies for Off-Grid Living

There are so many battery technologies out in the marketplace, and it is highly likely between me writing this and you reading it there will be another new fandangled world’s best battery that has hit the market. What Elon Musk has done with Tesla is to create a market awareness of wanting to install home battery storage and reduce our impact on the environment from burning fossil fuels. This has […]

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Slip Straw, Earthen Floors, and Tadelakt: A Recipe for a Perfectly Natural Home

Slip straw is an easy and energy efficient way to build lightweight homes or walls. It uses materials that are almost always locally available and also offers quality insulative properties. To build with slip straw you will need an abundant supply of straw, clay and some sort of wood to make forms. The straw you use should be from some sort of grain such as rice, wheat, barley, etc. Hay, […]

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Heating (and Cooling) Passively When It’s Too Late to Design Your Home for It

One of the more difficult things about taking on a permaculture lifestyle when we already have an established residence is that, because the practice is based on efficient design, many times we having seemingly come to the game too late. Once a brick-and-mortar house is built and our savings are invested, it’s no small task to start renovating it to have a built in grey water system or south-facing aspect. […]

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Wattle and Daub: A Quick, Easy, and Seismic Resistant Natural Building Option

Many people dream about building their own earthen home, whether that be from cob, adobe, rammed earth, or any other number of natural building techniques. The idea of using the earth beneath your feet to craft with your own hand a beautiful, natural structure that will shelter your family for years to come is indeed captivating. However, a good number of natural, earthen homes have been abandoned during the construction […]

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Health Benefits of Natural Earthen Construction

Somehow or another, the modern day, industrial world in which we live convinced us that dirt is unclean, impure, and well…. dirty. We worry when we see our children headed for a mud puddle, we agonize when a mud footprint makes its way onto our kitchen floor, and we´ll gladly walk an extra couple strides on the sidewalk to avoid even a step or two through the dirt. The idea […]

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Earthships: A Sustainable and Alluring Housing Option

The homes that we live in are the epitome of industrial pillage of the earth. Massive amounts of cheaply built lumber teeming with damaging chemicals from the structure of our homes. To heat and cool our homes, fossil fuels are pumped into our homes leading to excessive greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the comforts and luxuries that modern-day housing offers, for the most part, it is one of the most unsustainable […]

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Benefits of a Composting Toilet

Benefits of a Composting Toilet

When contemplating living off-grid, a tiny home, or reducing your use of natural resources in your home, one of the biggest things to come up is what type of water system you will use. There are plenty of options to choose from, you could use a well, a gray water system, water directly from a stream or river, or the simplest kind, a rain catch. If you are choosing a […]

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Passive Solar Design with Earthen Homes

During a long and cold winter, many of us might wonder if it is possible to stay warm without the benefit of a fossil fuel powered central heating system. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that close to 50% of all the energy used in American homes is for heating and cooling purposes. While it is nice to be able to walk barefoot in one’s home during the dead of […]

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3 Simple But Sustainable Ways to Build Tomato Cages

The fact of the matter is that tomatoes are, indeed, perennial plants when in their native tropics, but that is also beside the point because some foods, perennial or not, are just too damned tasty to fully wave goodbye to. There is a time and a place to play with tomatoes in the greenhouse, see how many years they might last. But, ultimately, when spring rolls around and temperatures start […]

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