Friday, October 16, 2009

Sustainable Living: Renter vs. Land Owner

Recently I have decided to move away from the place I am currently living at in Big Sandy Mush, for various personal reasons. One of the things I have experienced as a struggle over the years (when looking for residence), is trying to live a fully sustainable lifestyle as someone who is a renter. Moving from place to place every 6 months or once a year is not a very easy or an earth friendly lifestyle in some regards. The reason I know the difference so well is because not that long ago I was a home owner, real estate investor who bought and sold 4 properties...2 of which I lived at for an extended period of time, long enough to see how fast and amazing you could transform a home into something eco. I feel as though as a renter I have made organic gardens everywhere I go, outfitted houses in water filtration systems, and maintained the houses totally non toxic- only to have to leave and go to the next one. While I may have made a lighter footprint where I lived, it always feels as though I am falling short from being able to delve into certain aspects of living a nature friendly life that would be more meaningful to me - aka on a house I am renting I can not invest money into building things like solar hot water heaters, composting toilets, or other huge repairs that could make the place a bit "greener", if i know I will have to leave shortly after. I feel stunted as a renter on so many levels, the lack of freedom can be exhausting and claustrophobic. When I add in the need for a healthy environment to maintain my personal health, it becomes even more layered.

I would love to know what ya'll do as renters (and home owners) to maintain sustainable lifestyles- what kind of situations you are in, how you make it work, things you have discovered?!
I would also love to see links to some DIY solar hot water heater projects, and other cheap,upcycle,easy or free things you did to maintain the homes you live in!!



Lou Cheese said...

Originally I planned to bike everywhere until fibromyalgia made a permanent claim to my legs. I am about one week into my "zero waste" kitchen policy and it's working pretty good.

I've always wanted my own place though. It would allow a greater range of eco projects, for example, I always wanted to build an earthen stove. I can't do that while living in an apartment.

Lou Cheese said...

And I almost forgot, I really, really, really would like to have my own vegetable and herb garden.

Erik said...

Gardens are really cool.

Orchards and berry patches are awesome :)

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Lou- How have you started your zero waste program?
Having celiac sprue and not being able to buy bulk items to eat I feel is the only reason I make waste- I could do so much better if my health wasn't messed up. It's the catch 22 because the polluted environment makes your health bad, forcing you to do some things that cause pollution you wouldnt otherwise do. For me it's buying stuff that comes packaged- i don't buy much of it, but it's there. Can I build a house out of rice bags?
I would love to do more eco projects too! The gardening is the biggest (but i can do that renting around here), but the other energy saving projects are something I would like to do DIY.

Erik- yeah!

Lou Cheese said...

No reason really, I just thought I would do it as a challenge. It's not a perfect "zero waste" policy because I can't capture the water that goes through the sink or dishwasher, that's another item I could do if I lived in my own house instead of an apartment.

Another study came out recently stating that not only do certain plants clean chemicals from the air, but some plants also do a great job of taking chemicals like detergents out of water. If someone ever gets an MCS community built, the land could have a wetlands/marsh area for kitchen run off. And maybe a couple of beaver damns for Erik....those are a big boon for the eco-system as well, in fact the two ideas could probably be used together.

Wild Canary said...

I wish I could collect you all and bring you here, to rent, or buy or whatever. I know so many people who bought acreage, whereever, with the plan for a community, retreat, detox spa, only to spiral down and just keep treading water.
There is land and houses all around here, and the rents are reasonable. cNY seems to have a general awareness about MCS.
I love owning, but while I was in my toxic house, I had to rent a place to run away to...NO ANIMALS for five years...ugh!
I was able to grow herbs and onions:) in a window garden in that winter retreat.

Gratuitous said...

Some of us live in a highly compromised way because of external influences. Not because a more harmonious way isn't possible (it always is), but because circumstances demand trade-offs and sacrifices in exchange for true peace of mind, and we make the choices to not go "all the way." Still, the tug of conscience is there, with small but constant kind gestures toward mother earth assuaging our guilt: the recycling even if you gotta haul it yourself, the eating of leftovers you're just sick of, suffering the inconvenience and bad company of a carpool. We think about it a lot. Does that mean we're conscious?

I too am searching for a new home, and I've found a number of ads that use that word "conscious." If you're aware of your impact - positively and negatively - on the earth, are you automatically deemed conscious, or do you have to manifest it through a certain amount and type of behavior? Are there degrees of it? Cause if there is, you're way up there on the awake list, Leslie. You'll be fine.

Mokihana and Pete said...

For the past two days my husband and I and our friends L. and T. have been looking at land where we can park and build tiny mcs-safe good community. Your post and your thoughts could easily be part of the conversations we have been having ever since we arrived in this town.

The need for this growing food-intelligent thinking-chemical free community is definitely rising in consciousness.

Erik: Orchids and berry patches are great projects to create, once there is land and labor to maintain them.

Fresh, clean water is prime necessity. Beavers have an earth-bound destiny (First People have always known this) to maintain and cultivate access to water. It's their job.

Our challenges in finding land (to rent at first; perhaps to buy as the options manifest) is to locate a place where smoke/pesticides/zoning regulations/ have not comprised the area. Second, the individual 'symptoms' of two MCSers can be so different though similiar and that multiples the challenge.

It's not easy. When we get sick, we gotta rest. "Spiral down." That's why teaming up makes sense. When one is down, the other might be less down ... like coming here to find this post Leslie. I will going down for the count from exposure and poisoned attitude.

Yet, it seems it must become the battle worth taking on. Who else could no the complexity of the need if not us?

Aloha, Mokihana

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Mr Cheese - I like knowing that plants can de-tox water and transform the chemicals ... i know that here the chickory that grows on roadsides does that for the soil, and i think the plant comfrey does too.

Wild Canary - I guess the two biggest challenges with starting an MCS community is funding (alot of people with MCS can't work or are low on funds) and then the variations of MCS itself - some are more sensitive then others so a community would have to be meticulously planned and probably separated into a few areas so that the more recovered canaries don't have to live under the same restrictions as the newly sick. These variations would be minor, but still significant.

Gratuitous- Well thought out, and I like your questions. Since I am looking for a place too, there are choices to be made about whether being alone, with roomate or with an eco community ... i don't know if it's different levels of awareness, but that some have more health needs then others or more ethical convictions then others (For example I can't live in a eco friendly vegan community cause I am on a medical diet and would be very ill if i had to be vegan again ---> neither of us is more conscience then the other I think, it's just different approaches). :)

Mokihana- Location is everything! And the one challenge of buying land is you can not control what happens to the land around you... so your once beautiful forest outside your property line could become a lame development for half asleep people who just want a pretty view and trash pick up. One thing about the Asheville area recently is alot of spots of development are going on, and it's kinda sad - cutting into the sides of mountains is stupid.


PS- If I can get land, i think i want to build a tiny home made of cordwood ... anyone been in one before?