Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for February, 2010

Self watering 55 gallon drum planter

Our friend Nathaniel has done it again. Very cool DIY solutions for hydroponics and well drilling were not enough, now he has released a self watering 55 gallon drum “3-D” garden that is out of this world. His plans and DVD are top notch. Watch the video and see for yourself:

(BTW, a new podcast (Water Wars) has been uploaded at


Recycle your batteries (and play a cool recycling game)

Every year UK sends over 600 million batteries* to landfill which in weight alone equals 110 jumbo jets. And what’s more by 2016, the UK will be required by EU directives to recycle nearly half (45%) of all new household batteries sold Something needs to change. More info


Best Clothes Drying Rack?

Part 3 of our non-electric laundry series.

A friend of ours has one of these Clothes Drying Racks, and swears by it. I believe it’s a good addition to our non electric laundry series. Check it out and tell us what you think:


Alternative Energy and Self Sufficiency Seminar, March 14th, Florence SC

We will be giving a seminar about surviving grid outages, living off grid, and living self sufficiently on March 14th in Florence SC. Drop us a line at if you want to attend. Attendees will be given a cd with our latest ebooks. Also check out our latest podcast at


The non electric laundry press

Previously we exhibited our non electric bucket washer, today we are presenting the water press companion. This is a lot easier than a ringer, and easier on the clothes (and operator). We have loaded a video on Youtube, and a Instructable. Also see our previous post about the non electric washer. Enjoy:

Non Elelectric Laundry PressMore DIY How To Projects


Skills or stuff?

I have been reading How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley, Rawles. There are the typical lists of supplies one might need in a disaster, whether hurricanes like Katrina, earthquakes like Haiti, ice storms of the North East, or the firestorms of California. The more important point he brings up though is knowing what to do, not what you have. We have been concentrating on building our skill set. Part of this program includes the recent job I took, working in a machine shop. Working with lathes, milling machines, etc., is building up a skill set that was lacking. I will be identifying other skills I feel need improving, and working towards that end.


Solar powered steam turbines, the saga continues!

A while back, Robert Saunders started a series on solar powered steam turbines for electrical generation. That series continues:

Solar_White Paper_Part3_10

For past entries on this topic, see


New updated and expanded DIY Solar eBook

We have greatly expanded our DIY Solar instructions with 3 case studies (12v, 24v and 48v systems), detailed instructions on siting the panels, determining your loads, system design and production, and battery care. For those who have purchased this eBook in the past, just drop me a line with your approximate purchase date and I’ll send you a link to the updates. If you have not purchased this eBook in the past, you can donate at and I’ll send you a download link. We recommend a $20 donation for this resource. The old version is available at


What is self sufficiency?

Recently I had a conversation about the definition of self sufficiency, at least my definition. I don’t think I gave a satisfactory answer, because self sufficiency means different things to different people. On the extreme end of dependency you have the person with a maid, butler and chauffeur, and on the extreme end of self sufficiency you have the woodsman who makes his own clothes from skins and traps his food. I believe there are many definitions in between. I personally do not subscribe to the lone wolf scenario, but believe that we need family, whether blood, or intentionally invited, to survive. Regardless of your definition, what is right for you may not be right for others, so any definition can be correct. Please discuss below.


Using the bucket washer, “ringing” out the water

We have been washing our clothes with our bucket washer. 5 minutes per wash cycle, and 5 minutes per rinse, with less than 2 gallons per cycle. Reuse the rinse cycle water for the next wash cycle. When we can get a decent internet connection, we will upload the video. We are also working on a bucket clothes press to remove the majority of the water (no ringer for us) before line drying. The preliminary design consists of a lidded bucket, inserted into a second bucket (with the clothes in it) that has many small holes drilled in the bottom, which is inserted into a third bucket with a drain hole in the lower side. Snap the lid on the first bucket and sit on it. The first bucket presses on the clothes in the second squeezing the water through the small holes into the third bucket, draining out the drain hole. Save the water for another wash run.