Reasons to Travel – Number Six – You will realize that being a hippy is ok

Reasons to Travel

Reasons to Travel

Number Six

You will realize that being a hippy is ok, if that’s what you want to do!

Say “Green” to many people and it conjures up pre-defined ideas of hippies trying to save the world by growing their fanny hair long, VW campers with flowers painted on them and not using soap. Well, the world has changed and if you are not thinking green, you really are out of touch.

Mehdi Nodehi is chilled out character from Stockholm, I wouldn’t call Stockholm Sweden’s bustling capital but it’s certainly very efficient.   So efficient in fact that it was recently voted as one of the most environmentally friendly capitals in the world, and Sweden boasts that 43% of the energy supply comes from renewable sources, and they have a goal to “get off oil” by 2020.

It is this philosophy that Medhi aims to bring to Cambodia in 2011 with his organisation EarthShip Sweden.  Earth Ship Sweden is pioneering living a carbon zero life through self-sustainable housing technologies many of which can be quickly adopted in Cambodia.  Against the stereotype that Mehdi is just some pot-smoking hippie, he is actually building a successful business from sustainability.

“There is a lot of crap out there claiming to be very sustainable, but if it is too complex and too expensive then it is probably not that accessible and therefore not too sustainable because it can’t be implemented on a large enough scale to have any significant impact.

“We like to focus on the more accessible points of sustainable building, simple ideas and technologies that can be adopted and adapted to those people looking to build their own housing in the Kingdom,” said Mehdi.

The projects that Earth Ship is involved in includes working on projects that include an educational facility in Stockholm that is 100% sustainable, that means its own electricity from solar and wind, rain and snow for water and a totally enclosed sewage system.

“Many people already build their own house from local materials in Cambodia and the truth is that we can actually learn a lot from Cambodian building practices, whilst at the same time Cambodians can benefit from some of the effective power and clean water technologies we have been developing in the west.

Solar works very well here, you can use cheap solar pads that simply wouldn’t cut it in Sweden due to the hours of sunlight.  Many rural families in Cambodia are already using rechargeable batteries for electricity; currently these batteries are charged at a local village charging point normally at a diesel generator and then distributed for a small fee per charge to the house,” Mehdi added.

Using cheap solar cells can allow a family living in a rural village to charge the cells themselves directly into their battery removing the need for recharges and as a result squishing the volume of energy required for recharges which reduces the countries dependence on fossil fuels.  It doesn’t take more energy to make the solar cell compared to the energy that they save, that’s a common thread of crap out in the media, the reality is that solar cells – even very simple ones are now readily available at a very low cost.

Using low cost LEDs for night lighting can also help reduce energy consumption, two single diodes are sufficient for lighting, for day time lighting people can use soda bottle lights.  Soda bottle lights are simple plastic bottles that are drilled through a ceiling and filled with chlorine, during the day the chlorine liquid in the bottles acts as a prism which can light up a whole house or covered area.  It has been used to great effect in the Philippines where huge numbers of commercial properties now use the lighting, reducing the drain on the countries limited power grid.

In conventional housing you pool together all of your water, however grey water from a shower or a sink is not toxic and you can use grey water as very efficient fertiliser.   You need to use organic shampoos and soaps as your average potato plant doesn’t do well when drenched in Pantene Pro V, then use a simple filter to remove the fat and use it in your greenhouse or flow into the vegetable garden. Efficient closed systems then use this run off water to fill the grey water tank that fills your toilet header tank, which you can then use to flush the toilet and carry away your turtles heads (poo).

We don’t draw the line at garbage; garbage is actually a great building material.  Using empty soda cans, bottles and similar products in walls can help insulate from both the hot and cold and helps distribute the weight of a structure making it more ridged and better able to support its load.  Old car tyres filled with earth actually make awesome bricks for walls, being so thick they don’t need foundations and they heat the house when cold and cool it when it is hot.

It’s a bit of a lifestyle choice but it doesn’t lower your luxury, you can do everything you did before but you can save a ton of money, reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and do so without having fanny hair like a wizards beard or having to drive a VW camper.

Now the team at Done Right in Cambodia has actually built the first EathShip – Those crazy Swedes!