JUNE 12,2013

All big undertakings test your character, and this one no different. We are faced with many conflicts, in deciding on materials to use for the building of Sanctuary. We wish to be conscious of our impact on the environment, on other people, on our budget. We want to build something simple and affordable a project that anyone could build, and yet we want it to be as green as possible. The word green has been has been really fascinating to explore. We have been getting clearer on what green means to us in this work. Do you buy green natural non-polluting materials or do you create an efficient long lasting structure that is great on energy savings? Is it more important to have the green be the material you build with, or is better to focus on the energy you save after it is built? What happens when you need a material for waterproofing and you have to choose between mold producing and carcinogen? All of this research is really frightening because it seems to be a choice between bad and bad.


This project has really shed a light on just how toxic our environment has become because of our dependence on plastics and petro chemicals. The quest for the perfect insulating material was just one of these paths that has led us to some soul searching and some revelations. Beth and I want it all to be natural in the material use, to be non-polluting, and to be affordable, and we want a product that keeps us warm and dry. So going back in time to before plastics is one good tack for finding materials.


– We found a natural sheep wool insulation that we choose to go with, but it is requiring us to make our framing deeper to contain it. Meanwhile, it is disquieting to now know something about the insulation in my home environment. Jenn likes to use the words being conscious. Are we being as conscious as we can be about each decision? The answer is I am exhausted from being so conscious. Compounded by all our research, decision-making and trailer demolition, we saw the documentary Tapped last night. It took us to another level of awareness about the environmental and health horrors caused by the use of plastics. It also made us realize how important it is to get active in protecting our municipal water sources.


Of course our research has lead us to some great discoveries like simple solar heaters. These can be very easily made with scrap materials and tin cans they can cut your heating cost by quite a bit depending on the size and placement. This is a way to use recycled materials to lower our carbon footprint. It is also a very easy beginner project for people with no current skills. We are building one for our Sanctuary and when this project is done I am building a big one for my house. We have also discovered an amazing composting toilet, Natures Head that takes the icky factor out of human waste. It is possible that Jenn and I now know more about human waste disposal than anyone should. I find myself telling everyone how great this toilet is and I get vacant stares back. It’s a subject no one really wants to talk about, and yet the flush toilet is using up one of our most important resources, water. I want clean water for my nieces and nephews when they are my age, and a simple thing like this composting toilet could help make it happen. It is true that knowledge is power.


Yesterday we ripped the pressure treated wood off the trailer deck. It was one of those decisions we had a hard time making. Should we keep it on and just build up, or take it out and start level and perfect. I am glad we did take off the deck because it was had buried some crazy wire routing that we might have accidentally severed if we had not seen it. I leave tomorrow for Echo Lake Artist Collaborative in Philadelphia. It just happened that the company that sells the sheep insulation is an hour outside the city, so I will be able to pick up the insulation on my way home.


Beth and Jenn

June 11, 2013

About turningaroundamerica

Collaborative Team of Jenn Moller and Beth Ireland
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