What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Yikes! We've been greenwashed!

We've finally been doing some research into the supposedly "Green" soaps we've been using in our laundry and kitchen sink. We are very disappointed in ourselves that we waited this long to do the research, but most of all in the corporations that have duped us into thinking we were making a better choice with their products. Perhaps they are better than Tide or Palmolive but they are still not good enough! With every day I grow more and more distrustful of corporations, but in this case I really should have known better than to trust in the first place.

The Seventh Generation products contain biocides and neurotoxins as preservatives as well as boric acid, and the ECOS product we just bought contains anionic surfactants that are negatively implicated in immune system response and allergies.  This of course begs the question, are these chemicals being removed at the sewage treatment plant, or are they being dumped into the lake to be returned to us in our drinking water?

Looks like we will be making our own cleaning products once we have used up this toxic stuff and will certainly no longer be putting the gray water from the laundry or kitchen on our landscape until it is gone. We will also try using Dr. Bronners for more of our household cleaning jobs as we are comfortable, at this point, with putting that on the garden until we can get the research done. As far as the drinking water goes we will have to wait until the rainwater harvesting system goes in and has been tested. We hope that this will prove the cleanest and cheapest source of water available.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Of Black Locust, Joinery, and Sweat

At long last the renovation to glass in the verandah has begun. I found a skilled carpenter willing to work with me who could find a source of locally harvested black locust timbers. This wood is highly rot and termite resistant.
Insulative strips for the slab.
Insulative strip, foam insulation, and flashing.

The first step was to dress the slab for enclosure. As this space will be expected to provide lots of solar gain in the winter to heat the house and help propagate plants, the slab needed to be insulated, where possible, to break the thermal bridge which would rob the space of heat. I fashioned strips of blue foam insulation, scavenged of course, with 3/8 inch exterior plywood glued on to provide a rigid and protective surface. We painted them up, see the previous post of Jacqui painting the last ones in the midday sun. These were then screwed onto the slab using tapcon screws. Over this we laid a thin strip of foam insulation, found in my father's garage, and then metal flashing with a drip edge. On top of all this we placed the 6x6 posts and a 2x6 sole board to form the base for the windows.

Of course we first removed the old posts which happened to be filled with wasp nests. I was stung the day I removed the step railings, and being somewhat allergic, I swelled up, flushed and went all woozy for the rest of the day. So unfortunately the wasps had to go. We had been co-existing rather peaceably with them since we moved in, but they wouldn't tolerate this level of disturbance, and I couldn't tolerate multiple stings. We sprayed them with dish liquid and smashed the ones that persisted in returning. OM MANI PADME HUM for the wasps. May they be reborn quickly!
Framed for windows.
Pretty, but not ready for sealing...

After the posts and sole boards were in, we measured the windows and framed in the openings for them. They won 't be installed until the wood has a chance to dry thoroughly and gets a coat of finish/ preservative.

We haven't finished the framing because some of the wood we had drop shipped to us was unacceptable, and we are waiting for replacements.
No more steps! We'll have to walk around now.

We also took this opportunity to get started on the deck that will go over the rainwater tanks. As the tanks will be in the way for the initial ledger attachment, we decided to get it done now. Tomorrow we hope the grading will take place for the tanks. This necessitated removing the east steps.

And oh yes, it was hot and humid, and we sweated buckets. The heat index was 99 degrees today, going up to 109 degrees tomorrow... a rest day! Welcome to the south in the summer.

Monday, 11 July 2011

A Mad Dog and an Englishwoman

90ยบ and 70% humidity, Midday
I'll cover what she was doing in a future post but the amazing thing is that she chose to do it in the midday sun, and it was HOT that day! How is it that she, being from Northern England, can endure heat that keeps me, from the deep south, immobile. The dog is just MAD!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

All the fireworks I need

Holiday Fireworks
I really can do without all the noise, smoke, and crowds of this holiday. These gladioli are all the fireworks I need.