I posted on the post side of this blog the whys of REAL Green conservation. Review the whys and how of conservation practices mentioned below. Behavior and techniques are both critical to success. Actually, behavior is 80% of successful REAL Green conservation. Below are just some of the activities I practice I am an imperfect vessel. Many are far more advanced than I am. These strategies may or may not apply to you but REAL Green behavior does apply to anyone going into localism and leaving the delocalization of the status quo. Please review the post if you want to take REAL Green conservation seriously.
Dogs and chickens eat most of our food waste. In addition, the chickens eat much of the food from the garden that has spoiled or we are unable to eat. I try to eat all the food I prepare so planning means around proper portions is important. Too much food is unhealthy but wasting food from poor planning is bad. Sometimes you will need to eat more than you want to lower waste.
My wife is Italian and she tends to offer more food so everyone eats good. She knows how I feel about waste. I do not like junk food because it is unhealthy and energy intensive. I consider it a drug. A walk in a modern grocery store is surreal to me. The waste is horrendous from a green point of view.
My breakfast and lunch are cold foods so low energy use. I like and promote the idea from the old days when food choices were low and quantity lower of using meat from one meal in another like soup. I also believe in eating leftovers. I buy nutritionally dense foods because I like how they taste but also because health is important to a green prepper. I fast twice a week. Mondays is a 24 hour fast and Thursday is a 36 hour fast. I eat less food on average because of fasting. My BMI is within the good range. If you are overweight get thinner! Thinner is a prep strategy because health is more resilient and sustainable
I make a big effort to do multiple errands into one trip when I go to town. This is so important because the car culture is the biggest source of energy waste society is engaged in. Reduce transport energy waste is a top of the list effort for REAL Green. It is more than the energy wasted it is also the time spent away from your local of people and place. Delocalization is damaging from this point of view too not just the energy of transport and travel. I avoid driving when I can. My biggest difficulty is with family and their needs and wants. I feel a disgust for cars and the car culture but it is what our life is today. I have 2 trucks. Both were purchased used and I have maintained them well. My wife has a Subaru Outback. I wish I could live in a time of horses and trains but I am trapped in the modern world of the car culture.
I am REAL Green so keep this in mind when I explain hygiene. I am a permaculturist and avoid travel. I do not see many people during my normal day on the farm. When I go to town or special events I can clean up. I trim my beard and make sure my hair is proper. This means I don’t shower daily like many people. I have a beard. It looks good on me but many don’t like facial hair. I have a beard for two reasons. I find daily shaving isa significant waste of resources. To me it is not natural. I also spend long hour outside. A beard keeps my face warm in the winter and protects my face from the sun in the summer. I was blessed with not being smelly so I do not shower often. I use rock salt for deodorant which is natural and not a chemical cocktail. This rock salt is not contained in single use plastic container either. I keep my private parts clean of course. This can be done without an elaborate long shower. We have a bidet which is a great European invention. If I were a female, I would recommend not using makeup except for special occasions. I personally like natural female beauty without all the makeup. Get old gracefully instead of all the strategies of looking artificially young.
I am a permaculturist and an outdoorsman so I am outside and alone a lot. I do not wash my cloths daily. I use them until they are dirty and need washing depending on the projects I do. The time of year is a factor too. When it is hot shirts need washing more. I feel cloths break down less with less washing. I buy simple but technical cloths. I do have some nice clothes for funerals and weddings for example. When I go out to eat, I do not dress up.
I need technical cloths because I am outside all year long and Missouri has some difficult and variable weather. I dress very modest and unassuming. I am a bit like Johnny Cash and his “Man in Black” but I dress REAL Green in earth and water tones. I wear expensive sunglasses because my eyes don’t take bright sun well. I wear a ball cap because my family background has a history of skin cancer. I have a farmer’s tan because of this too. I use sunscreen and shorts, short sleeve shirt, and flipflops all summer long because I can’t stand being hot. I like wool and cotton because they are natural but some synthetics are needed for technical applications. I have a nice pair of running shoes.
I wish my wife would be more natural with laundry. I do have a clothesline set up and a washtub, ringer, and washboard that is in my prep supplies. These old ways of doing laundry may come back once decline gains pace. For now, they are in my prep supplies for use later.
Plates and utensils.
I tend to use the same containers over and over and some I wash very little. It depends on what kind of food you eat weather lots of hot water and soap is needed.
I am always turning out lights and trying to install timers or low wattage lights. In the morning I spend time in the darkness. I am up early at 3 or 4am. It is nice because everyone else is asleep and I do my best writing. This is also when I do my paperwork. Lots of paperwork with a farming operation. I am very organized. Being in darkness except for night lights is very relaxing. I do not watch much TV but do a little at night with the wife. She likes it. I prefer to read books.
I have a $25K solar system. I do not consider this green but it is greener and I feel an essential prepper asset. My system is very manual so I watch and tweak it throughout the day depending on solar conditions. This system averages 12KWH a day.
Passive heating and cooling.
I have applied many insulation strategies to my homestead. I did a renovation of an older house so I was restricted on what I could do. I ended up doing maximum amount of foam insulation. My renovated home is a split level with half the basement in the ground. I have lots of windows and did the maximum UV and triple pane kind for efficiency. My shop has R30 with vent strategies. There is an upper-level cupola with vent strategies that keeps the ceiling cooler. It buttons up well in the winter to restrict cold air intrusion but also can be opened slightly to take moisture away.
I cool with a mini-split A/C that can be run on solar. These are more efficient and can be focuses on one living area. All the windows in the house make for great cooling if needed. My shop has built in shade strategies with the wings of the Monitor barn design. The shop faces North/South and on the sides where the wings are there is outdoor covered areas for parking equipment and storing wood in the winter. These outdoor storage areas are like a canopy that were once common on high rises before air-conditioning.
Stay healthy and you will require less resources and be more resilient and sustainable. This is one of the best conservation practices you can do like driving strategies. The health care system is a huge energy intensive industry and lots of it are devoted to taking care of people who live unhealthy. You will have more energy to get things done if you are healthy. Green prepping demands a lot of work. I run twice a week. When I was younger, I ran and lifted weights but I had to dial back my workouts to avoid injuries now that I approach 60. I do a lot of walking and lifting during the day anyway so I must avoid injuries to do the work I need to do. The running helps me because working goats requires being quick at times. I once was a big bike rider but now find running is the best for me. Find some kind of exercise routine and you will save energy and money longer term.
Take care of your teeth! The cost involved with bad teeth is high. Many diseases get in your body via your mouth. You may ask how does this relate to conservation? Conservation is about footprint lowering. If you have good teeth, you will not be making dentist visits. In a crisis moment this is just another critical item that can be avoided. The key in a crisis is not leaving your local that you have prepped.
Supplies, hardware, tools
I save excess hardware, old and redundant tools, and use supplies in different applications when they lose shelf life. Keep in mind you need space to do this. There is a trade off if you don’t. Don’t pollute good space with hording. You must keep these spares inventoried in some way. There has to be a storage strategy so you can get to and find what you need or you are just wasting time and space. I live 25 mi round trip to the nearest town so if I can avoid a trip to town, I save time and fuel. It is often the case you are not sure what you need as a replacement so having a variety of items in your hardware and supply storage can give you inspiration.
Paper and single use plastic bags
This may not make much of an impact on the big picture or the small picture. It may make an impact in a crisis situation where resupply is not possible. Generally paper products used to clean can be reused or repurposed. I clean my nose more than once in paper towels as opposed to Kleenex. If I am sick this may not apply. Wiping up food mess depends on what you are wiping up. Just don’t always throw paper away after one use. In my shop paper shop towels are reused for when I grease things. Grease used on machines is nasty so once used for that it gets thrown away. Plastic bags are great for storing hardware or after food applications. Old tin coffee cans can be repurposed for storage. Be creative. Practice this activity daily so if a crisis comes you will automatically have this behavior response
I have a multi-species grazing system managing polyculture pastures. I manage grasses, weeds, and brush. A normal grazing operation would manage grasses in monocultures with fossil fuels and chemicals. I am less energy intensive and more environmentally friendly. This way of grazing actually promotes wildlife habitat. My stocking rates are lower but I spend less money on fuel and chemicals. I reduce machine wear and tear by avoiding mowing. My efforts focus on minimizing time and fuel used. I try to avoid mowing and chemicals as much as possible but they have their place in modern agriculture. This means knowing your fields. It means a little more effort at using your animals to manage pasture instead of mechanical and chemical efforts. It means accepting less beauty to the untrained eye. I see beauty in a weedy over growth field. I see the food for goats and I see the savings in time, energy, and machine wear and tear.
Goats are a great addition to a permaculture homestead because they are easy to handle. They become like pets so they give you a great connection to the animal world. They are excellent managers of weeds and brush. I save their manure and hay waste for making soil. My goats kid in the winter so they are confined in a barn. Hay has a dual use of feeding but also bedding. Goats waste a lot of hay because they are picky about what they eat. Cows do not do this as much. This waste is useful as it builds up to cover their waste. At the end of kidding when they go back to the fields this is a rich source biomass to make soil once it is collected and stored in piles. You turn it over with time and it decomposes into wonderful soil to add to a garden.
Hygiene, gardening, and eating involve water. I have discussed ways to lower the water needs of hygiene and home cleaning. There is a lot of low hanging fruit with water savings. Keep in mind also water like energy is essential to many of your purchases so reducing some kind of consumerism indirectly reduces water usage. Eating vegetables from an irrigated sources is case in point. I do not have water issues here in the Ozarks but I still make an effort to reduce water waste. Energy is needed to pump the water I use out of the ground. My well has an electric pump. I also recommend water storage for those who want to take water conservation even further. A cistern or rain barrels are great conservation strategies. Water is an essential part of a prep portfolio. This means stockpiling tools for water management.
When I change the oil in my equipment, I need to responsibly recycle this waste oil. What I do is mix it with gas and use it as an accelerant for when I burn brush piles. Many of you are not engaged in land management. Land management involves managing dead trees here in the Ozarks. Every year I have limbs and trees to deal with. These need to be burned or they reduce the value of the land. A mixture of 70% oil to 30% gas makes a great accelerant.
Recycling is a great idea but keep it realistic. You need to know when recycling is downcycling. There must also be an effort to balance EROI and ROI. Some efforts will be labor cost to you for very little return. The opportunity cost of your labor elsewhere is much higher. Yet, if planetary health is important than you will inject into your decision the energy cost of your activities. Driving miles to recycle aluminum cans may be a downcycle. Why not try to not drink liquids in aluminum cans to start with. Most drinks in aluminum cans are not healthy anyway. Make sure if you do the drive the number of cans you take is large. There are all kinds of recycle strategies that I don’t need to cover. My main point that is often not discussed is downcycling and the relationship of EROI and ROI.
On the farm my only big recycle item is used steel. Things like fencing and steel roofs have accumulated in metal recycle piles. We do not drink canned drinks so aluminum is not an issue. Cardboard could be recycled but we have no drop off place to recycle.
This is very important especially with clothing. Clothing purchases have a great impact on the planet few people realize. I suggest you buy quality clothing that has a second or third life. Have clothing as a prep asset too. If society breaks down to the point clothing is in short supply, then a deep closet is important. For me having the right clothing is vital for the work I do on the farm. I have to go out in all kinds of weather. I do not have many dress cloths. I mainly have a nice suit for formal events. Most of the time I dress very simple. I liken this to Johnny Cash’s and his “man in black” meme. I am the man “REAL Green” man. I wear simple but quality cotton cloths in the warmer periods. Short and cotton t-shirts in the summer. In the winter I use wool a lot. I do not sport brand names or art on my cloths. I have simple clothing for going out. I do have very technical clothing for work. Some of this clothing is expensive but it will last years and serves its purpose.
Reuse goes further with renovating houses and or fixing up and using old vehicles. There is a value in renovating an old house instead of tearing it down and building new. EROI and ROI comes into play here. Often it is the case building new is cheaper. The home I renovated was a quality brick home built in the 70s. Few all-brick homes are built these days because of the cost. This house was bigger than I wanted and the efficiency was lower but it had good “bones” so we renovated.
I have used vehicles for farm use. I have a 2001 Dodge dully with a flat bed. I bought this truck and rebuilt it for farm use. It is a vital asset for many things I do. A new 1-ton truck with flatbed would be the price of what homes once were when I was younger. I am still ½ the cost of new with my second life vehicle. The interior of my farm vehicle is rough but that does not matter. The capability of the truck is the same. I also have a 2002 Toyota Tacoma for farm use also. It has a lot of value as a backup vehicle and for farm use.
Reuse strategies will become much more important in the world of decline. Salvage and hybrid strategies will be vital for the downslope of a world of less products and services. Triage of items that have no future is highly advisable. There are so many machines we have in our life that are lower quality in regards to triage.
The excess baggage of modern living will be an impediment to your downsizing with dignity. Space is at a premium in a lifeboat permaculture homestead. Make sure you outfit your life boat with quality and necessity or else you downcycle your efforts. Hybridization will be very important and, in many cases, this will involve mixing new technology with old. In some cases, you will buy antiques and in other cases new items made with old technology. Always look for longevity and robust performance in the respect to voluntary simplicity you are embracing by being REAL Green. Seek value in regards to reuse with second lives. This involves behavior so educate and especially educate the young to the importance of these ideas. Society is going in the other direction at least for now since we are not in a full-blown crisis yet.