Going back to sustainability: When child nr 2 came we decided to live in the forest where I had a tiny cottage with 2 rooms and a kitchen. The cottage had no plumbing, very little electricity and, of course, no running water. We are talking an original Swedish cottage (torp) more or less unchanged since it was built in 1680. Swedish winters are horrendously cold and life quickly turned into a survival area for us. Slowly we renovated the cottage, one room at a time, and within the first 3 years we got water, plumbing and a bathroom! The point is that we could see where everything went; the plumbing was laid down under the field for the horses, visible from the kitchen window. Whatever went down the drain and out would stay within our “living surface”. Our water came from a well, dug behind the house and every day we could check the level of water to make sure it didn’t dry up…It never did, amazing well. 🙂
The point here is that when starting out with no modernities in such a pure space of nature, you become extremely aware of the sustainability of your living; washing-powder and liquids go down the drain and flow slowly beneath the green grasses where the horses graze and suddenly it really matters what you allow into that flow. Taking water becomes an issue as well; if the levels drops you have to ration the water to make it last. Heating; big issue. Electricity was installed in our house – state of the art, we could actually keep a lamp lit while having a fridge! We even had a tiny boiler that would hold 30 liters; just enough to bathe 2 children in the sink, once the dishes were done and more water had been heated in the boiler. 🙂 Electricity is expensive so we used wood to heat the house, a wood-burning stove is brilliant in the kitchen, filling 2 purposes at once and a tiny house is bliss to heat during the long cold winter. Getting firewood is hard work but we had plenty of forest.
The children used diapers of cloth to save both money and space in the dust-bin. Getting rid of garbage is costly and you don’t know where it goes. Everything that could go on the compost went there and the dogs and cats would eat the rest. Packaging was not a big problem since we got most of our foodstuffs and milk from the farmers around.
We weren’t looking to be sustainable, it was never a thought or an issue, it just automatically happened. Both me and Hubby were from the city where everything is taken for granted; there are unlimited amounts of water – even hot water – all the time, you can flush most anything down the toilet and the trashcan is a hole in the wall containing a chute that will transport your trash to “somewhere in the basement”, never to be seen or heard from again. In the forest this all changed; nothing is automatic and whatever you do (or don’t) it’s going to stare you in the face all the time.
Lesson learned: Sustainability is about re-using everything and thinking twice all the time. From how you heat your house and get rid of your garbage to how you shop, cook and maintain your stuff. sustainability takes time and work. To be honest, at the time it was also about economy; it’s hard for an entire family to live on one small salary and I really wanted to be with the children full time. I baked our bread, collected fruits, berries, herbs and mushrooms from the forest and the garden…I am a mean jam-maker! I sewed our stuff for the house and some of the children’s clothes.
Now my life has changed a lot and in the next post I will tell you about how this works. Stay tuned folks!