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Community owned Renewable Energy

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Source: Local Futures

One strategy being pursued to address the climate crisis has been to shift from fossil fuels to electric power as the energy source for common activities. But electric power has environmental costs, too, even when renewable energy is used to create it. Consider using human power and passive renewable energy instead.

Take action

  • There are many ways to produce hot water using solar energy. Mother Earth News’ article How to Build a Passive Solar Water Heater describes five simple, inexpensive heaters for home use. LowImpact.org’s book Solar Hot Water: Choosing, Fitting and Using a System, provides a detailed overview of the topic, whether you choose to build a system yourself or hire a plumber and use off-the-shelf components.
  • Solar Cookers International has been working for decades to design and promote passive solar cooking, especially in the “less developed” parts of the world. They provide solar cooker construction plans for many kinds of cookers, including a portable one made from cardboard and aluminum foil.
  • Preserving food by canning or freezing usually requires fossil-fuel or electrical energy, but there are other ways to preserve food that are just as effective. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has put together a comprehensive overview of preservation methods for various foods. You can also build your own solar fruit dehydrator with these plans from North Dakota State University.
  • Learn about various non-electric tools and techniques for satisfying basic needs from the Atelier Non-Electric in Japan. The text is in Japanese, but many of the design images are self-explanatory.
  • Low-Tech Magazine contains a wealth of thought-provoking articles, from discussions of “obsolete technologies” to the possibilities of low-tech solutions to modern problems: a great way to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Often the best solutions are the simplest. Rather than use electricity and fossil fuels to dry clothes, hang them on a clothesline. Rather than building fleets of electric-powered vehicles, promote walking and bicycling. Find other ways to satisfy genuine needs without using mechanical, fuel-based or electric means, and rethink technology with the help of No-Tech Magazine.

Get inspired

  • In Can Decreix, a degrowth community outside the French town of Cerbère, the embrace of simple technologies is a joyful way of life. The use of solar ovens and cookers is standard practice, and their many self-designed tools include a pedal-powered washing machine. Website in French and English.
  • Maya Pedal is a Guatemalan nonprofit that turns donated bikes into water pumps, grinders, threshers, tile makers, nut shellers, blenders, trailers and more. They also recondition bikes for their traditional use as transportation. In English or Spanish.

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