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The Earth Punk Chronicles: DIY Sustainability

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Minchalero Antonio’s tour of his house, greenhouse, and garden have some inspiring examples of DIY sustainable living!


Ready to spring into action? Here is a roundup of tips and tutorials to do some of these projects in your own home.

Building a Greenhouse

I love his greenhouse made from found objects. It sounds like the biggest issue he’s got in the greenhouse is his plants growing too well. What a fantastic problem to have! If you want to build your own, you could use these instructions from Las Pilitas Nursery as a good jumping-off point, then just round up your own second hand materials. Another great option is building your greenhouse out of old windows, like in this tutorial from wikiHow.

Get Gardening

We talked about planting your Spring garden just yesterday! You don’t need a lot of land to grow some of your own food. Even with just a sunny porch or windowsill, you can plant lots of tasty herbs and veggies. In the video, Antonio mentions that he’s planting a big variety to see what does best. If you’re not into doing lots of research, maybe this trial and error method would be more fun!

You can easily set up a drip irrigation system like he mentions. All you need is a rain barrel or two and some drip hoses! Rhonda Winter has some great tips on rainwater harvesting, too.

The House

Antonio’s veranda uses smart construction to harness the sun’s warmth. Just by making sure it lets the sun shine in during colder times and keeps things shady during warmer ones, he’s able to regulate the temperature on his porch without a single plug. You can take advantage of the sun in your home, too! Harnessing passive solar power can be as easy as opening the blinds during the day in the winter to let the sun heat your home and closing them at night to keep that warmth in.

The house itself is a a wooden prefab kit that he gave some extra insulation. Insulating is a relatively inexpensive way to lower your heating and cooling costs and use fewer fossil fuels.

From Passive Solar to Active

He’s also got a solar panel to actively collect and store power for lighting purposes. The stimulus package includes several breaks for installing solar systems. You might also look into a solar hot water heater. The stimulus offers tax credits for 30% of a solar water heating system, with no cap on systems installed after the first of this year!

The Power of Community

At the end of the video, Antonio talks about his neighbors. He knows them all and calls the neighborhood “a collective group of friends.” Sustainable living starts at home, but I think there’s a great lesson in that moment in the video: you can’t do it alone. You need help from your family and friends. As we move beyond the petroleum based economy, building community is going to be just as important as building any greenhouse or solar array.

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