Opinion Column

Earthships, solar panels and permaculture uncommon concepts

 by Twyla Siple, Interlake Spectator

Tell us what you are doing in your everyday life to stay green. Email asiple@postmedia.com.

Tell us what you are doing in your everyday life to stay green. Email asiple@postmedia.com.

Many decisions to go green are being made by some of the larger communities in our province, and a lot of them are being made right here in the Interlake. 

Peguis First Nation and Fisher River Cree Nation have already employed geothermal technology and FRCN will soon have the largest solar panel installation in Manitoba to date. 
 
Electric cars and eco villages are popping up in the RM of Armstrong. These are another source of inspiration for green living, serving as a reminder that we don’t need to depend on things like gas and oil to grow vegetables and stay warm. 
 
These grassroots farmers and dreamers are creating a piece of heaven for themselves and are looking to pave the way for their families to reconnect with our planet, Earth.
 
After last week’s column, it’s come to my attention that many people haven’t been introduced to concepts such as permaculture, which is a gardening concept that teaches green thumbs how to create sustainable ecosystems using fish and plant beds.
 
Gardening and farming are a beautiful thing that many Interlakers have been raised to understand. Those who grow up and move to the city may never realize what a gift it is to have that connection with nature, in that way.
 
After asking many people, I have been amazed that even earthships, like the one in St. Andrews, have never been heard of. If you are one of these and are a Lord of the Rings Fan, you can begin by imagining a Hobbit home, but an earthship’s biotecture concept is so much more than that. An earthship is a fully integrated architectural design model that can incorporate geothermal, solar and permaculture into a single family home building style. 
 
It can also expand into a beautiful community of homes.
 
This living, growing, architectural concept is based upon the principals of sustainable energy. They make use of grey water, rainwater, old tires and glass bottles, amongst other recyclable items. Earth is packed in and around and often delivers a rooftop garden. 
 
There are many variables and many different styles found around the world.  You can visit an Earthship in St. Andrews. Built by Kris Plantz and his wife Nicole Bennett, plus a lot of good hearted volunteers, their project has blossomed into a permanent establishment that hosts open houses on the occasion and has been featured by prominent national news teams such as CBC.
 
But the idea hasn’t caught fire here yet, because it hasn’t been perfected yet. There’s not enough folks tinkering with the idea, yet.
 
So, while we are spending money on sending people into space, we are leaving the earth behind. The earthship concept hasn’t been perfected, according to Archinia Architecture, who says it costs roughly $225 per square foot and may take up to two years to build your own earthship according to its website. 
 
In comparison, you could have designed and built a home of similar “sustainable” construction in a few months, with little to no effort, for the same amount of money, they say.
 
So what else is out there? And why haven’t we heard of it yet? Why aren’t these ideas mainstream yet? What will it take for us to see that it’s time for us to put in the effort, slow down and breathe life back into our future with green energy?
 
Please write to me and share your stories, from growing food in your front lawn to up-cycling to choosing paper over plastic, what are you doing in your every day life to stay green?
 
Email: asiple@postmedia.com.


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