Practical guide for Planet Friendly, 21st Century beings

September 11, 2009, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Articles of Interest, Energy, gardening, Green, hobby farming, New age

OK everyone, now that we have an overview of how to procure water free from industrial usage, municipal tax and utility company charges we now need to determine whether we can actually drink the stuff? What’s in it? Is it safe? Can it replace groundwater?

Rainwater, since it falls through the atmosphere, will inherently contain whatever particles and pollutants it happens to pick up on its way down to earth. It is naturally soft water and devoid of minerals since it has not yet interacted with the rocks or soil. It also has a low ph level and is slightly acidic due to a reaction with carbon dioxide in the air. It is usually safe but requires various stages of filtering before being considered drinking water. Always check with your local drinking water filtering/purification standards before drinking local rainwater.

Normal drinking water or ground water, as we know it, is created when rainwater falls to earth, picking up minerals along the way through its interaction with the rocks and soil, becoming ground water or ‘drinking water’ as it leeches through the soil and rocks into the underground aquifers, lakes and streams. Nature’s supply chain can get corrupted though, when human beings pollute the ground so thoroughly that our potential source of drinking water is forced to leech through polluted rocks and soil. By the time it ends up in the underground aquifers and lakes it needs to be tested and treated for a myriad of chemicals deemed harmful to human beings. One day its potable water from the sky then the next day it’s become contaminated (poisoned) by local industry, landfills or farm chemical runoff.

Our normal groundwater/drinking water also contains minerals that we human beings, over the millennia, have come to rely upon for our daily health and well being, which rainwater happens to be devoid of. But these minerals, which are absent in rainwater can, according to experts, be acquired by adding certain foods to our diet and in most cases it is actually easier and more efficient to absorb them through food rather than through our drinking water.

A quick primer in minerals; our bodies consist of approximately 4% minerals, classified as trace and major minerals. The trace minerals are; zinc, iron, copper, selenium, fluorine, iodine and chromium. The major minerals are; calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, chlorine and sulfur. These minerals are useful in forming bones and teeth, regulating cellular metabolism, maintaining normal heart rhythm, neural conductivity and muscle contractility among other things.

So, now that we know what our bodies require and what we must avoid in order to live a healthy life we now need to figure out a way to get our drinking water free and clear of any government or industry involvement and clean. Our way out of this conundrum is to catch the water before anyone can use it and abuse it. Rainwater is the answer. You don’t need to be a tree hugger to understand the benefits of government free, industry free, tax free water, although it helps?

Rainwater does require treatment though, in order to become drinking water and depending on your part of the country the rainwater may be completely un-drinkable due to heavy atmospheric pollution? Some research has been done on the issue of rainwater treatment and filtering for human consumption and the following is an excerpt of a very informative article on the subject that I found during my research for this article and is quite useful in our understanding of the technical requirements of filtering rainwater.

Excerpted from Short Note 4 Expatriate Bangladeshi 2000 Md. Khalequzzaman, Assistant Professor of Geology, Georgia Southwestern State University.

Full text available at

Studies of the chemical composition of rainfall have been carried on for many years starting in late 1880s in the United States and in Europe. Rainwater collected in various parts of the USA contains (in milligrams per liter): Fe (0.015) , Ca (0.075-1.41), Mg (0.027-1.2), Na (0.22-9.4), Ca (0.075-1.41), K (0.072-0.11), HCO3 (4-7), SO4 0.7-7.6), Cl (0.22-17), NO2 (0.02), NO3 (0.02-0.62), and Total Dissolved Solids 8.2-38), and pH of 4.9 to 6.4. Although most of these concentrations fall within the safe limit prescribed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, some exceed safe drinking water limit.

Rainwater in rural areas – away from atmospheric and industrial pollution – is fairly clean except for some dissolved gases it may pick up while traveling through the atmosphere. Some scientists consider rainwater as the “gold standard” of water. However, rainwater is not free of pollution. It contains most of the atmospheric gases in dissolved form in proportion to their abundance. In addition, rainwater contains sediments, dust, aerosols, particulates, and anthropogenic gases that result from industrial discharge, biomass and fossil fuel burning. Gases such as H2O, SO2, NH3, NO2, N2O, HCl, CO, and CO2 are produced in substantial amounts by burning of fuels, by metallurgical processes, and by other anthropogenic activities, and also by biochemical processes in soil and water. Carbonates, nitrates, and sulfates in the atmosphere can react with water vapor and form carbonic, nitric, and sulfuric acids, respectively. These acids washed down with rain and form acid rain, which is detrimental to ecosystem and water quality. Since rainwater is not pure water, some precautions will have to be taken before the water is consumed. Sediments will have to be removed, and water further purified by using a reverse osmosis distillation system. This is a membrane permeation process that separates pure water from a less pure solution containing dissolved chemicals. Rainwater purifying techniques also involves passing through a pipe surrounded by an ultraviolet light, which kills most pathogens. Based on the Texas Water Development Board’s “Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting”, a scientist named Krishna developed a rainwater harvesting system in 1998 and received approval from the city of Portland, Oregon, to use his system for all household use. The rainwater harvesting system costs less than $1,500 and consists of the following components: a 1500 gallon plastic cistern, a 1/2 horsepower shallow-well pump, plastic (outdoor PVC and indoor CPVC) piping, two particulate filters in series, rated at 20 and 5 micron particle sizes, an ultraviolet light sterilizer, screen covering the cistern, a 20 gallon water butyl rubber diaphragm pressure storage tank, and a reduced pressure backflow prevention device. The cost to install a similar system in Bangladesh will be much less, because indigenous equipment will be cheaper than buying from the United States.

Rainwater harvesting is in use in many parts of the world. There is a long established tradition of rainwater collection in some parts of Alaska and Hawaii. City of Austin, Texas, offers rebate for using rainwater for some household uses. According to the “Sourcebook Harvested Rainwater”, in some areas of the Caribbean, new houses are required to have rainwater capture systems. Hawaii apparently is currently developing (or has already developed) guidelines. The island of Gibraltar has one of the largest rainwater collection systems in existence. Rainwater offers advantages in water quality for both irrigation and domestic use. Rainwater is naturally soft (unlike well water), contains almost no dissolved minerals or salts, is free of chemical treatment, and is a relatively reliable source of water for households. Rainwater collected and used on site can supplement or replace other sources of household water. Rainwater can be used as drinking water if proper treatment is done before using. McElveen, a physician from Texas, also developed methods to treat rainwater for drinking purposes. For drinking water treatment, McElveen relies on 5-micron and 1-micron cartridge filters and an ultraviolet (UV) treatment. He runs an Environmental Protection Agency test every 8 months for the same contaminants as municipal utilities test for: heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, pH, and hardness.

So there you have it, Rainwater can be used as a source of clean, free drinking water as long as it is not overly polluted by local air quality and is properly filtered according to strict guidelines for drinking water purity in your area. Unless you live very close to (or in) a major urban center or near heavy industrial activity the chances are pretty good that you already have a constant source of free, clean drinking water falling from the sky just waiting to be collected, filtered and used by you and your family for years to come. By using these rainwater collection and filtering techniques along with green housing designs like the Earthships we could all someday live in a world where natural resources are no longer squandered and polluted but instead are coveted as a free natural resource that anyone can afford and maintain by themselves anywhere on the planet?

It’s worth a shot so; let’s start collecting our FREE WATER before they figure out a way to charge us for it!

Reference ; explanation of different types of water


FREE Water ! FREE Water !
July 26, 2006, 6:46 pm
Filed under: Articles of Interest, Energy, gardening, Green, hippie, hippy, New age, recycle

Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library

  Ok folks, today we’re going to talk about FREE water for your home, farm or cabin.

The first point I’d like to make is that IT’S FREE !!!!

The second point I’d like to make is that IT’S EVERYWHERE !!!

Not only is it FREE but it’s also FREE of contaminants that continually seep into the underground water aquifers.

If you currently have a well, the water is probably stinky and mineral laden ( iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell )) and may require filtering to remove these elements.

If you have a municipal water hookup then you’re paying for the local water treatment facility to find water for you, clean it, filter it, add chlorine to it and pump it to your house. In other words, a bill every month for someone else’s water ( a bit simplistic but you get the point? ).

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about by now but just in case you don’t, it’s called RAIN WATER.

Note: There are airborne pollutants that can affect the quality of rain water so you should check out the air quality standards and proper drinking water filtering and purification methods in your area before drinking the local rainwater.

You can collect it and use it to supplement your current garden watering needs including water features and bird baths using rain barrels (pickle barrels) or you can go all out and install cisterns (big giant plastic storage tanks) and filter it for grey water usage (washing dishes, showering) and drinking water (if properly purified), more about this later.

Add solar power and wind power to this setup and you’re ‘off the grid’ ! I can’t say enough about utilizing natural resources that remain untouched by human hands before we use them.

Rain water is as free as sunshine and windy days. It just needs to be collected and treated and that is where technology comes into play. There are many ways to collect rain water and the best one is the one that fits your lifestyle the best.

 ‘Rain garden’ technology; walk around your property during a rain storm (not a thunderstorm please) and look for low spots on the lawn or grounds where water naturally collects into puddles. You can use these low spots to plant bushes or trees that would basically water themselves if you have enough rain. The water would pool in the low spot then filter down through the soil/compost/sand mixture, used to fill in the depression, in sufficient quantities to maintain a healthy root system. Using this principle you could probably also build a sort of looping ‘French drain’ system around planting areas to collect water and moisten the ground right at the level of the root systems.

Rain BarrelRain barrel’ technology utilizes pickle barrels with a filter on top and a pump (sometimes a sump pump motor or submersible pond pump is used) to extract the water to the garden areas. You can also use manual (gravity) methods to extract the water via a hose connected at the bottom of a rain barrel on a raised platform or even a simple bucket method to scoop the water out. This is a great way to get started and to figure out what works best for you. You could also replace the electric motor with a solar pump if you wish?

‘Rooftop Rainwater Collection Systems’ capture rain fall from your roof, channel it through a series of downspouts into a giant cistern. The water collected is then processed through a series of filters according to it’s usage in the household. No sustainable home building architecture utilizes this system better than the Earthship Biotecture. Earthships and Earth Homes also utilize solar, wind, insulation design and lot placement to create self sustaining house designs that sever the ties between free human beings and the corporate power conglomerates.

There are lots of great books on Rainwater Harvesting out there so, just pick your preferred method of rainwater collection and distribution system and see how much FREE water you can collect and utilize. You’ll be saving yourself some money, helping the planet and feeling much better about your role as a planetary being. Not a bad payoff for utilizing a FREE resource?


More information on rain water collection :

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: This agency’s excellent Web site has much guidance, many links, an instruction manual (with suggested planting plans) that can be printed out and ideas for involving kids. See

Rain Gardens of West Michigan: A Grand Rapids-based coalition of environmental groups has advice and instructions at

Friends of Bassett Creek: The Web site of this Minneapolis river conservation group has a good short primer and plant list:

Maplewood, Minn.: This city’s Web site offers ample information, including suggestions for different types of sites and plantings:

Rain Barrel Gadgets. An Excellent source of Rain Barrels, Kits and planet friendly products.

Earthship Biotecture

The Natural Home Building Source

Davis Caves Earth Sheltered Homes

Green Home Building

Sustainable Village 

Rain Barrel Guide 

Rain Barrel Tutorial

The Path to Freedom

Drinking Rain Water 

Hobby Farming for Urban Beings
July 24, 2006, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Articles of Interest, farming, gardening, hippie, Hippies, hobby farming, New age

Hobby Farm

   Well, it seems that the harried pace of city life is finally becoming untenable for more than just a few 21st century beings? After a few generations spent building up the cities and turning the once quiet suburbs into the ‘new cities on the outskirts of the cities’, the children of the original city/suburban dwellers are now starting to feel the pinch of overpopulation and lack of peaceful existence in their current living conditions.

They are longing, once again, for the simplicity of life in days gone by where small farms, small towns and quiet living were the norm. Neighbors lived ‘down the road’ instead of across the sidewalk. People also lived simpler and consumed less.

Hippies, Boomers and other 21st Century beings are beginning to realize that they don’t actually need a cable connection or a new cell phone or a high speed internet connection to truly enjoy life, especially since these things come with the price tag of a frenzied big city lifestyle, a lack of privacy and limited open spaces.

Hustle and bustle is out, personal space and tranquility are in.

Hobby farms are becoming popular as a way to live outside the realm of the urban kingdoms while also offering the prospect of generating an income from the land as our forefathers once did. They are much smaller acreage lots compared to the working or industrial farms but still allow for country living complete with an old farmhouse and barn. They even qualify for a special tax status if they earn less than a pre-determined amount of income per year.

Hobby Farms offer tranquility, privacy and a way to reconnect with the land and nature. It’s a dream come true for bird lovers, artists, horticulturists, philosophers, dreamers and the occasional hermit as well.

All manner of beast and greenery can be raised or grown on a hobby farm just like a regular farm and the success or failure of any such venture would depend on the usual market demands for any product or commodity. Just a few examples of income generating ideas would be livestock, pets, herbs for restaurants, vegetables and fruit for the farmers market or restaurant, worms for bait shops, pond raised catfish, mushrooms and a myriad of other products I can’t think of at the moment.

Some great advice on planet friendly gardening can be found at Earth Friendly Gardening and some great insight to daily life on a farm can be found via podcast at Geek Farm Life.

Another perk of hobby farming is being able to get off the grid and become as self sufficient as possible after years of enduring utility companies and never ending rate hikes. There are natural resources available to all of us for free if we are willing to invest some money and effort to collect them. Rain water is one free resource available to any hobby farmer as well as Sunlight and Wind.

When the time is right, this could be a viable and necessary alternative for the overstressed and under-inspired city dwelling being who longs for open spaces, quiet evenings and a way to feel human again instead of just an advertising click through statistic.

Take a drive beyond the far reaches of our urban universe sometime and if you like what see you may just be the next hobby farmer?

Also see: FREE Water! FREE Water! PART II 

Here are a few links to whet your appetite on the subject :

Hobby Farms Magazine

Hobby Farming: Books

The New Agrarian

Recycled Solar Light, broken ground stake
July 17, 2006, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Articles of Interest, Blogroll, gardening, recycle

A Creative Alternative to Tossing Broken Solar Lights

I have a beautiful back yard (by my standards) and covered patio which my wife and I have renovated to provide a measure of privacy for reading and eating as well as some greenery to soften the cityscape around us. We have lots of solar lights which illuminate after dark and function as a landing strip for any creature that may get lost in the night. They are very pretty and don’t use a single watt of power line energy.

Recently, I discovered a way to recycle them when the ground spike, usually made of plastic, breaks off and can no longer be used to anchor the light in the ground.

Most people would throw the whole thing away but not us. I drilled four opposing holes in the cover and used twine to string them up on a shepherds hook. It looks very unique now and works just as well if not better than before. At least now I don’t have to worry about running them over with the lawn mower. Lokks kind of like a lighted parachute when it’s hung and when it’s really dark the light just hoversover the flagstone like a UFO.

Here are some pics to illustrate how the project turned out. Pretty well if you ask me!

Pic-1: Gnome on his own.


Pic-2: Solar Light Modified.

Modified Solar Lt

Pic-3: Solar light strung up on Shepherd’s Hook before the evening magic.

Gnome and Unlit Solar Lt

Pic-4: Viola! Night falls and the gnome is illuminated by a salvaged solar light.

Gnome and Lit Solar Lt