Tiago Zegur

Our Ancestors Did It the Right Way

Once upon a time, humans were living in harmony with the flora and fauna on Earth. Whether in Africa, Asia, America, Alaska or Oceania, every civilization knew how to extract resources without destroying the Earth. They knew the secrets of nature, the importance of ecosystems and they knew how to live in harmony with other species; they respected the Earth. However, the more we developed the more destructive we become and that is how we got to where we are today. With time, societies began to step on each other and we lost the focus and the control of the situation. Now we are trying to reverse the damage we have done and go back to the point where we were less destructive, less aggressive and less overriding.    
We have become aware of the damage we are causing on Earth and we want to stop it but it is not every society, community or country that wants to join this cause. Fortunately, this movement is becoming more popular, even though not as fast as some eco-friends might hope. 

Ecovillages: The Future as a Reflection of the Past

Ecovillage in Cloughjordan, Ireland

Some small communities are maintaining themselves autonomously, in order to lead a sustainable lifestyle. Ecovillages are sustainable and environmentally friendly, as the community only uses renewable energy, they have established a cooperative and solidary economic system, they have their own local production of organic food, they use materials with a low environmental impact and they preserve the local ecosystems.

In order to move from place to place in those ecovillages, people make use of ecomobility such as green cars and bicycles, or they simply walk. In ecovillages, they are not dependent on centralized sources of food, water, electricity, shelter etc. as they provide these themselves by means of their alternative systems. Electricity can be produced through wind generators, solar panels, water mills etc.

Ecovillages use alternatives ways of building and different construction materials such as straw and mud. By means of green roofs, heat loss and energy consumption can be reduced as shown by a study by Brad Bass of the University of Toronto in 2005. Furthermore, they have a cooling effect and if many buildings in the same urban area have green roofs, the city’s average temperatures can even be reduced in the summer. Green roofs also filter pollutants and CO² out of the air and the rainwater and even function as sound insulators. 

The Ecovillage Sieben Linden

We can find intentionally created ecovillages in countries such as Sweden, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Poland, Finland and Germany. One of the nice examples is the ecovillage Sieben Linden in Germany, where economics, urban and rural culture, work, ecology and leisure time coexist in harmony. There are five different neighborhoods in the ecovillage Sieben Linden where currently, 87 adults and 37 children reside. Their mutual goals are the continuous questioning of their consumption habits and the prevention of the exploitation of humans, animals and the earth through a lifestyle that bonds life quality and sustainability.
House made out of clay and wood in Sieben Linden
The neighborhood „Club 99“ is aiming at reducing its ecological footprint to a minimum in order to establish a higher life quality. They support and implement concepts such as vegan raw food nutrition, a conscious community life and the minimal use of electricity, packaging and goods. Most of the residential houses in Sieben Linden are straw bale houses. This reflects the construction philosophy of the village. Instead of industrial construction materials, the residents prefer renewable construction materials such as straw bales, wood from their forests and clay.
Sieben Linden has its own water supply and water disposal system (fountains, a plant-based purification system, and compost toilets) and heat is generated through wood and solar energy. By means of the four independent photovoltaic systems, 65% of the electricity requirements are covered annually. Another photovoltaic system is in the planning stages. Sieben Linden has its own business operations such as a horticultural farm, a fruit-tree nursery, a carpenter workshop and people are starting to make their living as architects, artists, consultants and body therapists, amongst others. 
The village is certainly one of the good examples of the developing eco-villages around the world. Ecovillages are a great step towards minimizing our carbon footprint while promoting health, well-being and comfort.The philosophy has to be disseminated and implemented on a large scale so that we can eventually see the growth of ecotowns, ecocities, ecocountries and finally ecoEarth.

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