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Denim Insulation

Ultra Touch denim insulation is recommended by the Make and Do YouTube channel who says this brand provided better insulation than foam panels he’s used in the past. Denim insulation is a natural, non-toxic insulation product that’s available loose (for blow-in applications), and in rolls and batts. Some products are available with foil backing.

Ultra Touch denim insulation specifications:
-Manufactured from 100% recycled denim
-Non-itch material allows for easy and satisfying installation
-Superior thermal and acoustical performance
-Lots of uses around the home, ranging from sealing areas around doorways and windows to sealing gaps around air conditioning units
-R6.7 for energy saving performance

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On the Road: Live from Vientiane, Laos

Gate of Triumph, Vientiane, Laos

Gate of Triumph, Vientiane, Laos

Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is a popular tourist destination. At restaurants it’s common to hear conversations in multiple languages. The international flair of Vientiane in part comes from old French colonial architecture found throughout the city. I’ve chosen Vientiane as the starting point of my latest road trip in search of natural building and sustainable farming projects.

My two main goals for this journey are:
– create more life-enriching experiences by living more intentionally as Thoreau advised;
– visit organic farms in SE Asia to learn more sustainable farming skills, and improve my diet by obtaining fresh organic fruit and vegetables direct from farmers. Through this process I hope to create working relationships with other organic farms in the region as I explained in a previous blog post Distributed Farm/ Community Network.

Here’s a list of different travel options to illustrate how one could live more intentionally: 1) Join a bus tour that makes 5-15 minute pitstops for photos, shopping, etc. 2) Typical vacations to exotic tourist destinations. 3) Take a 1-2 week workshop. 4) ‘Slow travel’ – stay in an area for a longer period of time so you can get to know the people, experience first-hand how locals live by learning how they grow their food, build their houses, etc. WWOOFing falls into this later category, although I may not limit myself to farms on WWOOFing networks.

Just to be clear, I still have a wonderful loving family, comfortable home and homestead with our forest garden. But it’s time to leave the nest and ‘up my game’ so to speak.

Image source: Baolau.com

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Amazing Woven Bamboo House -Traditional Green Building


This amazing video by architect Gordan Clarke is very enlightening and inspiring. Note the keywords in the title — Traditional Green Building. That’s a key concept often missing in today’s green building movement, where granite countertops are imported from Italy, exotic woods from far off jungles are turned into furniture, etc. to build high end ‘eco mansions’. In contrast, this video shows how simple, natural and affordable housing can be.

The Ethiopian bamboo builders deserve a lot of credit. They are obviously master builders with many years of experience. They’re able to skillfully turn virtually free natural materials into a home that can last 70 years! That really is amazing. Let’s say you didn’t want to build a house like this yourself, you could hire a crew and probably have it built for under $1,000 in Ethiopia. Guestimated cost: 10 workers x $5/day x 15 days = $750 plus materials. That means the cost of housing spread over 70 years would be practically nil.

These bamboo houses are popular with tourists, so while you’re at it you might as well build a few more to rent. The biggest problem may be getting decent Internet service…

YouTube

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Venetian Cistern/ Well

Venetian cisterns are used to collect and store drinking water

Venetian cisterns are used to collect and store drinking water

One simple way to collect and store potable water is with a Venetian cistern. In ancient times, Venetian cisterns were often constructed in courtyards near homes for easy access.

Construction details can vary, but the basic components are shown in the drawing above.
A – Rainwater or water from other sources such as streams enters the cistern through the top.
B – The water is stored in sand or gravel. Using gravel at the bottom will assist in removal of water.
C and D – A cistern lining contains the water and keeps out dirt, groundwater contaminants, etc.
E – The central water storage area is separated by a 2nd lining (shaft) to keep out sand and gravel. The water can be removed with pumps, buckets, etc. Using modern materials you could put well pipe in the middle instead of building it like a cistern.

Image source: Ben and Bawb’s Blog