Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for January, 2010

Fun with Buckets

What cool uses can you come up with for a 4 gallon to 6 gallon plastic pail? Clothes washer, water filter, tool caddy, composting toilet,solar shower and much more. We started a new group for finding ways to reuse good used buckets into something useful again. Check it out at


New Podcast Service

We are putting together a weekly podcast broadcast on renewable energy and self sufficiency. We will be discussing things you can do to reduce your energy consumption, produce your own energy and food, and be more self sufficient. email us at to have questions or comments aired. Listen to the episodes in the podcast list in the left column of this website.


Pictures of the 6750 watt PV system install.

We finished the PV system install in SC. Thirty 225 watt pv panels, two FM-60 MPPT controllers, eight Rolls 6v 530ah batteries, and two VFX3648 inverters (Master/Slave) outputting 240vac. Runs a inground pool pump (2.5 hp) during the day, and a upright freezer, plus lights and tools. The batteries stay fully charged during the day, and only get cycled at night. Total cost was about $30k. Click the picture for more pictures.


Agricultural Apocalypse 2010

We are facing a problem that literally has never been faced in human history. Surging population and food demand, food inflation, diminishing world food stocks, drought, flooding, cold, diminished credit, infestations, soil erosion, industrial farming, factory farm pollution, aquifers/wells going dry, relocation of produce for energy production are all slamming into a global financial and economic crisis. And in some places like the United States they don’t have enough farmers. Then on top of everything else we have desertification, which is one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. New deserts are growing at a rate of 20,000 square miles (51,800 square kilometers) a year. Desertification leads to famine, mass starvation and human migration.
When a large segment of the population is facing a drastic cut in income in the face of escalating food prices we have a catastrophic problem in the making. Today we have the simultaneous events of income deflation and food inflation; two high-speed express trains coming down that tracks at each other, a financial crisis colliding with staggering crop losses, which are cutting deeply into available planetary food reserves. Prices of food are beginning to sore again just as millions are losing the ability to afford a reasonable diet though little of this is being observed or reported but soon even the blind will see.

From corn to crude, prices for a wide range of commodities are
on the rise across the globe. In recent months, global food prices
have been growing at a rate that rivals some of the wildest months
of 2008, when food riots erupted across the developing world.
January 9th Wall Street Journal


Build your own PV Panel Kit

Build a PV Panel Kit – Maybe you have read online how to build a pv panel. There are Instructable’s and Youtube video’s galore on the subject. here’s a quality kit of pv cells needed to assemble your own panel.

Now you can build your own solar panel! This kit will help you build a 60-70 watt solar panel with your own hands. This is a fantastic way to learn about solar, show off your green credentials, and power small electronics at the same time. This kit comes complete with:

* 50EA A Grade 3″x6″ Evergreen Solar Cells
* 10′ of tabbed wire for connecting the cells
* 10′ of bus wire for completing the panel connections
* 1EA Flux pen for soldering cells and wires
* 2EA 10A blocking diodes for preventing the panel from draining a battery

This kit is great when combined with our Build Your Own Solar Panel Training Series, which will teach you to actually assemble this kit into a working solar panel.


Non Electric Clothes Washer

Recently we blogged at about the “Breathing” Mobile Washer. Ours arrived today, and I can’t wait to try it. With a 5 gallon pail (with lid, just make a hole for the handle), Vermont Soap Liquid Sunshine, and 1.5 gallons of rain water, my socks and unmentionables will be clean and fresh. This is much superior to a toilet plunger.


Green-Trust.Org hit with a Cease and Desist!

A while back we discovered a neat way to make the typical gardening container less labor intensive by putting a water reservoir in the bottom. We blogged about it, linked to a DIY article (since removed from that explained how to build one, and nicely provided a link to a commercial company that sells them. Well, according to their legal department, we are the antichrist for doing so, and have been threatened with huge financial penalties for doing so. Read more at EARTHBOX Infringement.

Now we never charged for this info, never sold any devices that use this info, and never obtained any profit or payment of any kind for linking to this info, but that doesn’t seem to matter to these sharks. We have edited our post by removing the link to the dead instructable, and only list the commercial entity in the link, but would like your feedback (in the comments section below) on this issue. Tell the folks at Earthbox what you think as well.

The ebook that started the bruhaha:

More DIY versions:


Storing Food For 30 Years and PV install

Yesterday we went to a Mormon Cannery and drypacked #10 cans with various foods like Hard Red Winter Wheat, Macaroni, Dehydrated Onions and Carrots, Dried Apple Slices, Oats, Beans, and more. I had never used a machine that seals the tin lids on the #10 cans before, so that was fun. An oxygen absorber went into each can (except the sugar), and some foods have a 20 year storage (carrots and powdered milk). Others have 30+ year storage. We processed over 700 cans.,11664,7448-1,00.html

Today I’m installing a 6750 watt off grid power system. There are 30 REC 225 watt PV panels, two Outback FM-60 controllers, eight Rolls 530 ah 6v batteries (in series) and two Outback VFX3648 inverters. The panels are wired in sets of 3 in series, with 5 sets per controller. I made the battery and inverter cables from 4/0 welding cable, and the panel and controller wiring from 8g SOOW cable. Pictures to follow, so stay tuned.


The Water Crisis

Every morning, eyes slowly open to another day without hope. Children are sick and weak. There is a constant struggle to find the most basic of human needs. From the depths of each soul, a cry of despair born from generations of poverty wells up and overflows in a slow flood of tears. It is a worldwide crisis, and it stems from a lack of safe water, proper sanitation and hope found only through the message of the true “Living Water.”

The crisis is real. It steals the lives of 5,500 people each day- more than war, natural disasters, AIDS or even hunger. Yet, it rarely makes the headlines in the newspaper, nor does it circulate in water cooler conversations in the workplace. It is a silent killer – one that quietly preys on the world’s most marginalized and forgotten people.

A child should not be too sick to go to school because of the water he drinks. A mother should not have to haul disgusting water in filthy containers for miles because she and her family have no other option. A village should not drink, bathe and cook with water from the same source. Human and animal waste should not defile drinking water. But this is the life of more than 884 million people in the world…right now. This is why Water Missions International exists: we know the world doesn’t have to be this way. Water is meant to bring life, not death.

Water Missions International provides safe water – liquid hope – to those who have none, both in developing countries and disaster areas. Through one-of-a-kind engineering innovations, WMI is transforming communities and changing lives every day.


Off Grid Clothes Dryer

In the good old days, folks used a wringer to get the majority of the water out of the clothes before hanging them on the line. Well let me tell you, even using a ringer (not a fun task), the clothes still came out dripping. Have you ever used a salad spinner? Now there is an idea. Spin the water out of the clothes, and they will dry a lot faster on the line, indoors or out. Homeless Dave gave this idea a lot of thought, and connected a bicycle to a broken washing machine (free on Craig’s List). Read his excellent DIY article at