Going green

How Green can we go?

Last year I had a Gift Challenge, I wanted to see if I could Make, Upcycle, Regift or give gifts of service for a year. Granted I only started in July so will be carrying on for a while still. But It has been fun and for the most part I think I have managed. I will post some more updates of things I made soon.

But this year I want to start a Green/Sustainability Challenge. I want to see how green and self sustainable we can be in an urban area. So much of the stuff I have read about being sustainable is based on people moving or having more space and the average person. This suggestion is 2 acers which is just not realistic for most.

From Progressive Pioneer as seen on Pinterest

I love the book It’s Not Easy Being Green
click here to buy at Kalahari.net

It is about a British Family’s Journey towards Eco-living but they move to a new house in the country and have lots of space and try to go completely off the grid. But it is a great read and there are some wonderful tips for average people too.

While I think we might have more space than the average as we have quite a bit garden we are still urban, we have the urban bi-laws and other limitations of not having a farm or small holding. But since a lot of us live in urban areas surely there should be a way we can be more green and more self sufficient than we are.

After all we either create and produce or we consume and take away. I know we can’t get totally off the grid and there are some luxuries that we still want but I think in a small way there are things that we can all do. This is my year to see how far we can go in our goal. I know it will take more than a year but I want us to set the habit of being mindful of our drain on resources and see what we can do to counter it. We will never be able to do everything ourselves but I could finding local produce for what we can’t make or grow and working within our community.

    Pros/ What we have

  •  We have space. A big garden and enough area to grow food for ourselves. Is it enough to feed us all year? I am not sure yet @mattallison from I’m no Jamie Oliver suggested on twitter than one needs about 200-400m² to grow enough food for a family and have some left over. My very rough pacing out in the garden says we have about 220m² of area that we wanted to set aside for the food garden.
  • We have a lot of sunshine so we should be able use solar energy
  • We have a borehole to ground water. If we get the pimp fixed then having water for the garden should be easy even though we live in a dry area
  • We have wind, Cape in notorious for wind and as we are on the west coast we get a lot of wind
  • The Geek, he is a great asset he is keen, hard working, handy and can build stuff and brainy. He loves researchig things and has been looking into the wind and solar options and knows how to do all the Math and Sciency stuff we need
  • Seaweed, we live very close to the beach and although or soil is not great here we have seaweed to help us fix this problem
  • Wormery: We have a wormey to make compost and worm tea
  • Chickens, although there have been sagas and we only have one how is laying, we should soon have all the eggs we need from our chickens. Meat? Well let me address that under cons.

Cons/Limitations

  • Money, this is always going to be our hugest limiting factor. We would love to add a rain water collector, solar panels, wind turbine and borehole pump but sadly the budget does not allow, even if in the long run it will pay off, we still have to have the cash now. I will try save slowly during the year for these.
  • Meat, while we can keep meat chickens I am not sure that the children (or me to be honest) could eat chickens we have raised. I understand this is very hypocritical and that our meat would be a lot healthier. Maybe time will change this. With a bigger flock and the birds being less individuals it might be easier.
  • Bad sandy west coast soil, if you see above we have been working on this and have compost, worms and seaweed to help
  • Space for other livestock.  Although I am sure we could have a goat, The Geek does not agree.
  • Space for wheat, we will always need to rely on others for flour but I would like to find a local source and maybe grind our own. I would also like to decrease our wheat consumption as I am sure we should not eat as much as we do.

12 thoughts on “How Green can we go?

  1. I really wished that we were also living on a farm or small holding. It would be so much easier to live from your own land. I am still dreaming about a farm in the Garden route area, with goats, chickens and veggie garden and fruit trees.

    • This is why I determined to see what a normal urban house can do because it would be great to be on a farm it is just not a reality for most of us. I think there is a lot we can all do just with what we have

  2. Im quite excited to follow your journey 🙂
    If we had a big enough garden I would definitely grow as many veggies and herbs as I could. Unfortunately our garden is south facing and over run by 3 destructive dashies 🙁

  3. A friend of mine does Water systems and stuff, check it out purewatersystems.co.za Dawid Jr. I know they do all sorts of stuff and maybe just have a chat to him about how you can get the borehole and water from the house sorted. Good idea by the way! look forward to seeing how it goes:-)

  4. Thats a lot of what we are considering although for us it will be a tad easier as we are moving to a farm but we also looked at types of veggie gardens etc. My hubby read somewhere (will have to confirm where) that an average family of 4 can feed themselves off a space the size of an average door. Whats also something to look at is vertical gardens, apparently huge in places like London where there isn’t much floor space. I’m trying to find a link that I saw a while ago about children in england that built a green house with plastic bottles, great to do with our kids as a project that they can learn from on so many levels! If I find it will send it to you!

  5. I have a friend in Belville who sells organic spelt flour – http://www.eirenehealthshop.co.za/. And I think that what helped us as small children years ago was that my parents never made the rabbits that they farmed with, our pets. We never thought about them that way. Years later my dad started again in the city on about 3×6 m area.

  6. Good luck. I’m urban, grow a lot of my vegetables but not enough to feed me everyday and certainly not enough for a year. So I’m looking forward to learning from you as you go along.

  7. Also, I’ve heard that replacing any globes in your house with LED lights will save a lot of electricity. Even energy-saving globes use more power than LED’s. Apparently the LED lights are a bit more expensive once-off, but you save in the long run.

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