Someone posted this link to me today regarding how someone downsized their life. The fact is in the last 50 years Americans (and no doubt many other nations) now occupy more than 3 times the amount of space they did before. Add to that the rising number of “drive in storage facilities” that are cropping up as a new industry its time to stop.
Now for me its something I realised years ago as although I had a nice Victorian house and garden in the winter I froze and in the summer the long garden was impossible to maintain.
But looking at it another way the ceilings were too high and I never used the sitting room, the kitchen was used for less than an hour a day and generally as a family of 3 at that time we could have lived in a space 3 times smaller and been financially better off. The electric bill would be cheaper, cost of rent and the amount of gas consumed in the winter time.
On a social front instead of my daughter sitting in her room unsocially it would mean the family have to function together in the same space creating a much more social environment. It would also mean having one good TV instead of 3 TV sets in different rooms.
But why stop there, I used to remember my ex buying clothes for specific parties that would never see the light of day again. Wouldn’t it make more sense to hire or buy something that would be timeless and expensive to wear to more events instead?
In today’s way of thinking I am permanently de-cluttering my life as every time I look at something I wonder if I really need it. When I go back to the UK shortly I will be arriving in the UK pretty much with just the clothes on my back as a suitcase in the UK is all my possessions I need there for work. Literally while working I can live in a small bedroom. I generally eat out due to the type of work I do so no kitchen is required, I wash my clothes daily so could use a launderette if the facilities weren’t at the place I rent etc.
It does away with the general cost of living in the UK which when I assess it cost me £1,500 a month previously with the Victorian house compared to £500 a month all inclusive for my new way of life financially I am saving at £1,000 a month. With the current economic climate its going to be much more of a saving.
So does container living make sense? I think its a case of accepting the fact we have to live smaller and shipping containers give fixed dimensions you can work with. It can also teach people to limit what they waste which in turn reduces personal debt. Question is can we live without container living, as simply it redefines life and moves away from consumerism to realistic financial living.
SNAP Hydroponics is something that has been developed in the Philippines for sustainable living and livelihood. What makes it a little unique compared to most hydroponics setups is that it doesn’t need any electricity which is a huge difference in money cost for production. Obviously the Philippines climate is a country receiving 12 hours of sunshine as well as constant heat which helps. But the SNAP solution which is mixed with water is a cheap solution for plant production that is initially designed for leafy plants. Maybe this is the first step towards developing different solutions for different types of plant to get maximum growth while still being organic. But for me living out in the Philippines with these lightweight boxes how many would you fit on a shipping container home roof? The boxes themselves come from discarded fruit boxes normally carrying grapes which means your recycling a product that is normally scrapped. How to make a SNAP hydroponics setup from a fruit box can be found here.
I am extremely keen on this idea as we have started Hydroponics here in Cebu,Philippines and although sunlight isn’t an issue or heat often what is here is theft. Having lockable units may be the solution for that problem as prices in the Philippines for food are often inflated. We seem to get the lower grade stock at the same price people are paying for high grade in UK supermarkets. But back on tangent I do think they are onto something with the idea although likely more useful for government buildings such as schools and hospitals as a provider of good quality food than general population use. May yet to be proved wrong mind!
In recent months we have seen mango’s stolen, tomatoes and even potatoes dug up. But it got me thinking about the shipping container house communities and the fact these setups would fit neatly on the roof of shipping containers. They do need a bit of rain cover to stop it interfering with the mix of chemicals in the SNAP solution at the same time there is nothing wrong with collecting rainwater to use in the SNAP Hydroponics mixture. Very simple system that can be upscaled to suit anyone’s needs and an ideal starting point for someone wanting to grow at least some of their own food.
Now my big question is this has anyone discovered the mix for SNAP solution? Everyone wants to sell me some but at the same time the formula is going to be a lot more simple than is being made out. Any ideas?
(SNAP Hydroponics uses no electric as it doesn’t need water circulation which makes it more practical for many)
For me its a bit of an odd one for sustainable development as an assessment of multi-crops is needed to see if it really is viable for every day use in city dwelling surroundings. Ok we are saving on transportation and lighting,pumps and heat come from solar panels but is it viable?
Many neighbourhoods would see kids running around on the roofs of these units damaging the solar panels at the same time in an upmarket area they don’t blend in. So where do they go?
Not scrapping the idea just trying to see where its viable in urban surroundings as the concept seems mainly to do with reduced travel. Places such as the middle east without a doubt these would be highly useful and productive but in the middle of New York or London?
I think if anything they would be more suited to being hidden away in things like railway arches and other spaces that are often not practical for other use as daylight doesn’t seem to be needed although if doing it myself I have to admit I would look at Louvre ventilation and a roof that allows light to pass. I’m out in the Philippines my main issues are electricity and bugs container farming would work urban scale here but the way things are developed to the West is very different.
Mono-cropping with shipping container farms may be useful for locations such as hospitals,military bases and other high volume and subsidised food locations but still trying to see how this concept fits into Joe public’s way of life. I can see how it works but like many things with shipping container homes and other buildings its to do with planning and surrounding areas more than anything else. Roof top gardens are probably a more viable project in many locations which makes me wonder are we better trying to get people away from daily gardening introducing automated systems or trying to educate people to be more green with the land they have?
SNAP Hydroponics Ideal For Off Grid Living (No Electric Needed)
A system developed in the Philippines which involves nutrient solutions seems to have answered one of the big issues here in the Philippines but also makes it an ideal grow method for container housing or other off grid homes, it doesn’t need electric! Basically the method involves a polystyrene tray that has a lid (often found for food delivery) that you cut circular holes for polystyrene cups to use as plant pots in it before lining the bottom of the tray with plastic sheet to waterproof it. In goes the cheap solution mixed with water and pretty much that’s the pots near enough setup except for a bit of medium to secure the plants but also means that once you have established your tray garden you can literally pick your food from the leaves for lettuce and other crops. I am sure the formula can be adapted for other types of plants as well.
Now bearing in mind a shipping container home has a large roof area which is not only flat but suffers with heat build up I am sure this may be a solution to help drop that temperature down while keeping your greens out of the reach of many garden pests. Adding a ladder to the side of your container means your plants are happily growing away on your roof and the fact they are self watering from the solution your not constantly worrying they dry out continuously. The other obvious benefits of SNAP Hydroponics is it can be up scaled or downscaled for winter or personal needs. I am currently researching it more here and going to put an order in for the SNAP solution so I can trial it but it does appear to be a very cheap option of growing greens, which are often overpriced in the Philippines.