Years ago I came across the idea of a natural home built of earth and straw. As silly as it sounds, earthen houses are one of the world?s predominant building types, and not just in so-called developing nations. In Europe, houses made of earth and straw (called cobb) can be found that are hundreds of years old.
I've managed to maintain an interest in this style of building, picking up books and magazines whenever I could find them, with hopes of eventually moving to a rural setting and build a natural home. Last year I discovered Natural Home, a magazine that showcases eco-friendly home building, maintenance and household products.
Each issue usually has a few staples: showcase a natural home (sometimes a traditional home that has been renovated), explain how to make some part of your house eco-friendly (solar panels, capturing rain water), and make a non-toxic house-hold product (paint, laundry detergent, and so on).
Yup, I know it sounds pretty granola, but there's something empowering about reclaiming skills and knowledge that we've given up to live in the modern world.
The environmental benefits are pretty nice as well. For example, nine percent of the low-ozone pollutants come from the volatile organic compounds found in paint. Phosphates from laundry and dishwasher detergent destroy streams and lakes. And the amount of chemicals and energy used to manufacture and maintain a "modern" house is stupefying.
I haven't tried everything the magazine suggests (some of it's impossible to do where I'm living now), but what I have tried has worked exceptionally well.