Category: Sustainable Living

How A Kerala Couple Built A Sustainable Mud House and Forest of Their Dreams

Countless city dwellers dream of rekindling their connection to nature and embracing a sustainable life. This includes retreating to the ‘wilderness’ and living a sustainable and peaceful off-grid lifestyle—whereby they live in harmony with nature.

Hari and Asha are an inspiring couple from Kerala in the North Malabar region of India who have proudly adopted sustainable living. In a video that featured in the Down to Earth YouTube channel, the duo of environmentalists share how they managed to plant a 34-acre forest and a build small sustainable mud house from the ground up.

As they narrate their experiences, it is clear that they are driven towards an eco-friendly life in which they give back to nature. For example, their mud house is designed based on the tribal culture in Kerala. By using the earth as a building material, they’re able to facilitate efficient airflow — with the mud also acting as insulation. They also minimize their energy consumption to just 4 units every month by using a biogas unit that turns waste into power, 1.5-kilowatt solar panels, and an earthen cooler that also helps cut CFC emissions.

Perhaps the most impressive achievement by the Kerala couple is the flourishing forest around their homestead. The land is now home to a variety of animals, butterflies, and bird species. The forest also provides them with vegetables and fruits that grow naturally – i.e., no tilling or any form of human intervention.

If you are aspiring to live a sustainable lifestyle free of the shackles of urban living, the example set by this couple is a great starting point for motivation.

“I believe the best way to begin reconnecting humanity’s heart, mind, and soul to nature is for us to share our individual stories.”
—J. Drew Lanham

How A Kerala Couple Built A Sustainable Mud House And Forest Of Their Dreams
How A Kerala Couple Built A Sustainable Mud House and Forest of Their Dreams – Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bA1uLug51U

4 Ingenious Ways To Get Fresh Water Out Of Thin Air

4 Ingenious Ways To Get Fresh Water Out Of Thin Air
4 Ingenious Ways To Get Fresh Water Out Of Thin Air. Graphic – off-grid.info. Images – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atrapanieblas_en_Alto_Patache.jpg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atmospheric_Water_Generator_diagram.svg

Water is the most important of all “survival supplies”. Humans can last several weeks without food by using stored body fat – but when it comes to water, we can only survive up to three days without it (and will be becoming progressively more and more unwell during that time). Some knowledge of scientific principles – together with some tried and tested techniques and simple, widely available materials – can enable us to obtain water from the moisture in the air.

1. Dew Collection Using Plastic Sheet. Dew is a good water source. Dew will settle on foliage such as grasses and tree limbs at night, as the air cools. Take a plastic sheet and stretch between the limbs of trees then if necessary add a clean pebble to provide enough weight to create a collection point. Over the course of the night the the dew will collect at the low point. Drain and collect the water.

2. Dew Evaporation From Grass. You can apply the same principle of condensation in other ways. Find a sunny, grassy place then place a bowl face down on the grass and wait 20-30 minutes. You should see condensation forming inside of the bowl. When ready, pick up the bowl and swish it around. You will see a puddle of clean water at the bottom.

3. Solar Still. A solar still is another well-known water collection technique. Look for a sunny area and dig a shallow hole in the soil about 2 feet across and 2 feet deep. Fill the hole with vegetation (leaves or parts of other living plants) and place a water container in the middle of the hole. The hole is then covered with a plastic sheet, with the edges pinned down with stones. Energy from the sun creates a miniature greenhouse and the heat causes moisture to evaporate from the vegetation and collect on the plastic sheet. Putting a small stone in the center of the sheet will cause the water to run towards the middle, where it drips down into the container. Simple and clever.

4. Fog harvesting. This is the method shown in the image. It has interesting potential to provide an alternative source of fresh water in dry regions and can be harvested through the use of simple collection systems. Fog harvesting technology consists of a single or double layer mesh net supported by two posts rising from the ground. During cool, misty nights the condensation is sufficient for drips to start running down the mesh, where they can be collected into containers. This technique as the potential to provide useful quantities of clean, drinkable water in places where supplies are scarce.

This Small Village Is Making Electricity From Plastic Bowls

How’s this for an ingenious low-tech solution? It just goes to show that anything is possible with a little ingenuity and a will to make a better life.

For poor families living along the Red River in Hanoi, Vietnam, it is a luxury to have access to electricity, due to poverty and the expensive electric bills in the region. Also many have no access to power as they are living in boats far from the power station. To resolve their problem, local university professor Le Vu Cuong took the initiative of generating electricity for the low income earning community by creating wind turbines using very common instruments including cheap plastic bowls, motors from broken printers, recycled metal poles, and old bike batteries. The clean energy generated is enough to give them some extra hours of light at no additional cost.

The professor constructed low-cost turbines that have plastic bowls attached to a horizontal windmill on top of long metal poles. A very gentle breeze of 1.3 foot per second (0.88 mph) is all that is required for the home made turbines start generating power. When the wind spins the plastic buckets and turbines, electricity is generated from wind generators and is stored in batteries.

Le Vu Cuong’s project wouldn’t have come to fruition without help from humanitarian organizations including Australian Aid, Plan International Vietnam, and Live&Learn. His colleagues and other volunteers also provided support to implement the project.

The young researcher’s initiative had brought clean energy to ease the life of the people living in the floating village in Bai Giua where twenty households are located. Those who reside in the floating village earn from pottery trading or collecting scrap. Before the project came in, they had to buy electricity at a high price due to the extra cost for electric wires. So the wind energy system devised by Le Vu Cuong had made a significant difference for those previously without electricity.

The wind turbine system has helped villagers with power to cut their monthly electricity bills. Le Vu Cuong and his partners are planning to construct larger wind turbines to generate more electricity so that people can power their electric fans, cookers, or fridges. They also want to take the project to other impoverished areas of Vietnam.

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This Small Village Is Making Electricity From Plastic Bowls
Photo – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqOHlJef8KY