Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Two Buckets on a Mission

Is it possible two cheap plastic buckets can help reduce global malnutrition?

Sounds crazy, but there’s some amazing technology that can be created by combining two cheap 5-gallon buckets along with some other low cost or free materials. The result is a low cost foolproof system of growing food.


The “Mr. Fusion” tabletop methane digester and supercooker

Dr. Karve taught us that an animals gut takes fresh food and converts it to methane gas much more efficiently than trying to make methane gas from spent food (manure). We have been developing a 5 gallon tabletop methane digester. This unit runs on kitchen scraps run through a blender to make a slurry, and is a continuous digester. It uses two 5 gallon plastic pails for the digester and gas collector, and the supercooker consists of a 5 gallon metal pail with a methane burner in the bottom and a metal stockpot inserted like a crockpot. It not only cooks from the bottom, but from the sides as well. A lot more heat from less methane. We will be adding this info to our existing methane digester package at, and early documentation will be available to those who help with the development progress. If you donate $5 at (put methane supercooker in the notes), we will send you updates, and the completed plans and video’s.


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


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.


Camping: Portable Shower and Toilet

We have been doing some camping this summer, and the question came up about showers and toilets. First off, you need some privacy. There’s a number of tents on the market designed for this purpose. One of the units we used was the Texsport Hilo Hut Privacy Shelter. This tent is high enough to stand up in for a shower, and wide enough for a porta potty. For shower options, there’s the solar method (put the Zodi pump in a black 5 gallon pail), the propane method, and the campfire coil method. One can use a handheld sprayer, or the shower pole. We used a Luggable Loo as our portable toilet, which is a 5 gallon pail with snap on toilet seat and lid, but any camping potty would work. Use a biological breakdown enhancer, not a chemical deodorant.

Zodi Hot Tap w/Piezo Ignition Single Md: 6185

Zodi Shower Pole with Tripod Stand and Nylon Storage Bag

5 gal PORTABLE TOILET Outdoor Camping Recreation

Reliance Products Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet

See these products and more at the Green Trust Gear Shop.


The Dual Flush Toilet

Traditionally, the standard 3.6 gallon flush toilet is responsible for approximately 30% of a household’s water consumption. The newer conserving flush toilets drop that in half, to 1.8 gallons. Enter the even newer dual flush toilets. Didn’t take a dump this time, only a pee? Press the correct button, and you only use .9 gallons, vs. the 1.8 gallons the other button offers for a solids flush. If you can’t or won’t use a composting toilet, this is a serious water saver. Most manufacturers list the tank, bowl, and lid separately, so make sure you order all the correct components.


Conserving Water

In our quest to conserve resources, and reduce expenses, we decided to capture rainwater, and install a composting toilet. The rain gutters direct roof water to a 1000 gallon concrete cistern. The cistern is connected to the house water system with a 12v piston pump. The piston pump has two sets of valves, so I can select the cistern, or the shallow well. The well goes dry in the hottest parts of summer. In order to reduce water usage, we installed a Sears front loader washer, and a waterless composting toilet by Nature’s Head. This reduced our water usage by 50%. In winter, when the rain water system freezes up, we switch back to the well, but we miss the soft water. A larger tank would allow us to use rain water all winter. The water is purified with our Berkey water purifier for drinking and cooking, eliminating the need for bottled water.


Make your own DIY Water Filter

construction_schematicThere’s a lot of info on the net for building your own water filtration. One of our favorites is the Slow Sand Filter, because it uses every day common materials (sand, gravel and a container). Here is one design that is easy to duplicate using whatever containers you can find. I’d suggest 35 gallon drums. 5 Gallon pails could work but may not give enough filtration.


St. Maarten “Today”, June 9th, Investing in Sun & Wind

GREAT BAY – We haven’t seen anything yet as far as the global energy crisis is concerned, says Steve Spence, director of New York-based Green Trust. “Gas at the pump is now around $4 a gallon in the States, but within three years I expect to see prices like $10 a gallon. We have to conserve; there is no other solution. Renewable fuels will not solve the problem, simply because we are unable to plant enough crops to produce a sufficient amount of bio-fuel.”



Water Shortages

It’s been a mighty dry month or so. The well has been intermittent at best, and the water quality is substandard. We have been drinking bottled water ($0.25 / gallon in 5 gallon jugs), and limiting our water usage, but it’s time to put in the cistern we have been delaying. I dug up a couple of Amazon gift certificates, and ordered the best books I could find on rain water harvesting and storage. We will be drilling a DIY well on Oct. 25th, so take a look at A local concrete company will deliver into our hole, a 1000 gallon precast concrete cistern for $600. The last item we will need is a Aermotor Wind Pump to top the new well, and fill the cistern, which will also be fed from the roof gutters. Next years Green House will take the outflow of our greywater and use subsurface irrigation for our vegetables. This will require biofriendly cleaners, no chemicals, and careful analysis of what goes down our drains.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1): Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life And Landscape – Update: One of the best I’ve ever read. Highly Recommended. Very readable, understandable, and applicable.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 2): Water-harvesting Earthworks – Update: Won’t be available until January 2008. Volume 3 on cisterns and tanks is even further out. If they are as good as Volume 1, they will be awesome. See

Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks – Update: Fantastic reference, also a good read, and yet easily implemented.

Rainwater Catchment Systems for Domestic Supply: Design, Construction and Implementation – Update: Another required reference. Lots of background material.

New Addition:

The New Create an Oasis With Greywater: Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systms – Includes Branched Drains – Art has a way of relating of relaying knowledge to the reader/implementer that is never “Dry”, and easily understandable.

We will be discussing the details of this project as we progress at, and keeping folks up to date here at as well.

Also see Dew harvesting and Rain Barrels.