Earthcare at QIVC

What are we doing to improve our care of the earth? 
How are we living more lightly on this earth?

October, 2011  (Fourth Intention updated 2013)

 

Our community’s fourth intention is “To live in unity and harmony with the earth by considering the near and far environmental impact of our actions while striving for thrivability.” We recognize the need to replace our society’s destructive infinite-growth, infinite-resources paradigm with a “thrivability” paradigm (moving beyond sustainability).

Some strategies we pursue as part of our fourth intention:

  • use fewer resources (reduce, reuse, recycle)
  • for energy sources, use recently sequestered carbon (wood, oil) instead of releasing more fossil carbon (petroleum) into the cycle
  • make more, buy less
  • increase our awareness of the land around us and our interactions with the land; improve the land around us for all (not just humans).
     

Here are activities that many of us do (not all do everything), and do more of now that we live at QIVC. (Those that match the underlying strategies above are color-coded.)

 

TRANSPORTATION:

  • Carpooling
  • Sharing specialty vehicles (7-seater and pick-up truck) among families to keep the average car size down
  • Owning and driving veggie-oil-powered cars
  • Doing errands for each other while out and about, including drop-off and pick-up of others’ children...recycling...trash...groceries... mail...prescriptions...library books...CSA shares...
  • Even when doing errands for one household only, grouping errands to minimize driving trips
  • Having jobs that require less transportation than others--some work from home!

 

HOUSES AND CONSTRUCTION:

  • Building houses that have a passive solar design, good insulation, and smallish square footage
  • Increasing our percentage of natural/local/reclaimed materials used in construction (oil and wax vs. polyurethane, wood walls vs. wallboard, natural plaster vs. cement stucco, local rough-cut lumber vs. hardware-store lumber from Pacific Northwest, denim or soy-based insulation vs. fiberglass insulation, strawbales & woodchips/clay slip as wall infill materials, wood from our land for timberframe elements)
  • Getting used kitchen cabinets, appliances, and other household necessities like lights, shelving, etc. from friends or buying them from local ReStores (sources of ecofriendly used and surplus building materials, some run by Habitat for Humanity)
  • Heating homes primarily with firewood, much of which is extracted sustainably from our 88 acres of forest
  • Heating domestic water with solar energy
  • Using on-demand domestic hot water systems
  • Using grid-tied solar panels (PV) to generate electricity
  • Using fluorescent lightbulbs and LEDs
  • Using composting toilets (and compostable cat litter!)
  • Owning few major appliances like air conditioners and TVs/entertainment systems

 

CLOTHING:

  • Using a centralized laundry room to keep down the size of our houses and share expensive equipment
  • Air-drying clothes on clotheslines instead of using a dryer
  • Using front-loading clothes washing machines
  • Having clothing standards different from mainstream--allowing for wearing clothes longer (even if out-of-fashion, stained, torn, or mended)
  • Re-using clothing (hand-me-downs) through family-to-family transfer and community “swap area”

 

FOOD, GARDENING, COOKING:

  • Growing some of our own food (vegetables, fruit, honey, eggs, maple syrup, pork, chicken, and lamb)
  • Supporting our local CSAs (Little Seed Gardens and Threshold Farm) and local food co-op (Chatham Real Food Market Co-op)
  • Preserving, canning, freezing our own and local food
  • Foraging for wild edibles (wild grapes, apples, nuts, nettles, wild thyme, mushrooms)
  • Planting fruit and nut trees
  • Using re-usable shopping bags
  • Caching rainwater for use on the gardens and for watering the animals
  • Composting (feeding the chickens and improving the soil)
  • Doing till-less gardening
  • Building up the soil with terracing by hand, manure from chickens, neighbors’ horses, and a local alpaca farm, sheet mulching, etc. (even urinating near plants that need nitrogen)
  • Doing organic gardening--avoiding the use of petroleum-based fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides
  • Using chickens and pigs to prepare plots of land for gardening
  • Using sheep to “brush hog” our fields
  • Cooking when possible on a woodstove or in a masonry heater instead of turning on the oven
  • Sharing cooking of meals (less use of fossil fuels to cook, heat water for washing dishes, run water pump, light the kitchen)

 

CONSUMER PRODUCT LIFECYCLE/WASTE:

  • Sharing equipment (lawn mowers, chest freezers, food processors, table saws, etc.) rather than each household having its own
  • Reducing procurement of anything plastic or throwaway (e.g., plastic bottles, kids’ toys)
  • Repurposing items if possible before disposing of them (e.g., making old clothes into rags, using grocery bags to line trash cans)
  • Recycling individually and collectively, from paper, cans, and bottles to dumpsters full of large pieces of metal farm equipment and barbed wire collected from our hedgerows
  • Reducing the volume of household trash that has to go to the dump (by diverting it to recycling, compost, or chicken scraps)

 

MANAGEMENT OF OUR LAND:

  • Building houses in just one area of our 135 acres, tightly spaced
  •    Managing our woods to provide firewood for our households
  • Reducing our mowed “lawn” areas in favor of low-maintenance, low-impact, animal-friendly meadows
  • Reducing outdoor lighting and using flashlights, headlamps, and night vision instead
  • Building earth, grass, gravel, and woodchip paths rather than paved paths
  • Parking our cars by the road and walking to our houses (provides exercise, interaction with others and the land, and reduces need for snowplowing)
  • Providing many homes for birds (in birdhouses and in the eaves of our houses)

 

KIDS:

  •   Encouraging kids to play outside and be comfortable in nature, creating a stronger connection to the earth (most of our kids have also enjoyed a great environmental education at the local Flying Deer Nature Center and some have attended Farm and Wilderness camps in Vermont)
  • Exposing kids to skills and activities of simpler living (wood chopping, canning, maple syruping, building, gardening, harvesting)