Built to Last
What’s the first thing you do when you move to a new city?
You find your whereabouts in the new place.
Make new friends.
And if you are like me, you follow the bloggers from that city.
That’s how I came across Micheal Mobbs blog in Sydney. Micheal is a an environmental lawyer who lives in a sustainable house he built himself. He also is great guy to talk to /write on / and coach on sustainability. If you see his blog, you will know that he has written two books – on Sustainable Homes and on Food. That was enough to get me fascinated to be a regular reader on his blog.
So one weekend, when I had an opportunity to visit his house, I dropped him an email about it. I told him how this ( sustainability) is something close to my heart, but I live in a serviced apartment here. I am not sure what learning from his house can I implement here. But I want to meet and catch up with him. Last Saturday I land at his beautiful house, full of natural light. And there he is, a guy who calls himself lazy. But who harvests rainwater on the roof of his house. Has a small box of native bees in his backyard and talks about how he can converse with them. These are stingless bees. You should log into http://www.sugarbag.net/ and read more about them.
He chats with a bunch of us who ask him all sorts of technical questions about his house. Why did he choose to build a sustainable house? How does he recycle all the water and sewage? What problems did he face when he decided to generate clean energy for his own? But Micheal makes it all sound so easy. He tells us how four people in his house use almost the same amount of water that an average single australian person uses. How he generates surplus clean energy now. I am not surprised. Our generation has too much and we waste more than we can save. Only a few try otherwise.
He spoke about generating energy for his house by solar panels, and now he generates more than he needs and actually has a grid to store it! He spoke about how he struggled to take permissions years ago and the resilience it takes to get things done. And every now and then, he called himself a simple lazy guy and missed any opportunity to brag.
I saw the community library book box made of old water filter on a street in Chippendale and signage about the community garden. And when I walked out of his house, I was beaming with a smile and wished I lived in that neighbourhood.
Amongst many questions, I ask him – ” What if all of us can’t build a house like him? What can people like me and many others do to live ‘better’ ? ”
This is what I understood:
– Buy local food. We all like an occasional indulgence from of cheese from Holland and Olive oil from Italy, but try buy as much local food as you can. No Chinese apples please. Less food miles = better for environment. I think the real foodies/ the good chefs need to talk about this.
– Recycle as much as you can. Start with the segregation of garbage
-Organic isn’t a fad. Pick up pesticide free things consciously
– Save water. And this is explained in detail in his Sustainable Food book. 400 litres of water is used for a slice of Bacon. So if you ditch red meat from your diet once a week, you effectively save water.
– Of course, don’t leave the water tap running;)
A few weeks back, a friend asked me about my dream house. I remember saying, “lots of sunlight, and open spaces and a garden with a swing.Walls lines up with books, wooden floors and enough food for friends..” Actually, I never thought about houses, let alone dream house. But last weekend, I saw a house that stood for a ‘good’ house on the planet. With lots and lots of sunlight, a fireplace, books, and a tiny garden. Atleast if someone asks me the same question again, I know what to say.
This is Micheal answering all our Questions
Conversing with the Singless Native Bees
Sustainable Food & Sustainable House
Saturday Tours at Micheal’s House
Just some shots from his Kitchen
Buy Local Food
From generating solar energy to rain water harvesting and community gardening !
“And a beautiful house with lots of light and wooden floors and books and enough food for friends”