I decided to write this article after having lived for a short time in an eco-house myself, and I know a lot of people either have blind fantasies about what its like, or they fear the unknown. I would like to share my experience and hopefully, that will give you an idea of what it’s like 🙂
When my grandma and I were offered a “cabin” in someone’s eco-house in a beautiful Russian settlement, I was thrilled – living without internet and digging poo holes, what could be better? This was during the Ringing Cedars festival (from the Anastasia books by Vladimir Megre).
In reality, it was even more beautiful (and clean!) than I had imagined in my head!
The eco housing
Our cabin turned out to be really lovely on the inside, all wood and very clean (I think before I came I had an expectation that there will be mud everywhere for some reason, so the cleanliness really astounded me).
Hygiene and pondy showers
All of the water came from their personal well, which was a little bit yellow and tasted kind of like pond, but that will vary depending on location of course. That water was only for drinking and washing plates, there was no plumbing system and the only shower was the pond outside. The mud there can be used instead of soap (we basically had a mini SPA!) and the water was warm. Actually I wash my hair with rhassoul clay or bicarbonate soda anyway, so it’s not that different to my day to day life haha!
Everything is so natural, they even use soap nuts to wash their hair, I use them for laundry but have yet to try them on my body. The only downside were the horseflies – if you’re not a big fan of horseflies, I would recommend you build some form of a shower because those things were everywhere as soon as you get near the water!
As far as the bathroom side of plumbing, I was very happy peeing pretty much anywhere I felt like… the plants didn’t seem to mind either. The “fun” started when we needed to go number 2… I remembered the days hiking in the mountains in Spain where you just dig a hole and go, no problem at all. This was a little different because we had to go in the forest…and that’s where a huge swarm of mosquitoes was literally waiting for us at the entrance. We looked so funny! I was there with the shovel trying to dig, at the same time I was jumping lifting my legs as high as possible, whilst my grandma was hitting me all over with a blanket – all to keep the mozzies away. That didn’t help much, and after a second of pulling my pants down, I had had enough and ran out of there with not the nicest words towards the creatures of the woods.
Thank God the owners of the house had an eco-toilet inside. I’ve never seen one before (or even thought about their existence) so it was pretty exciting. It basically has several parts – the bottom bit where all the stuff goes can be opened and closed (so when you’re “done” you open it and everything goes down, then you close it so it doesn’t smell). It also flushes, though I’m not sure if you need to pour water in it or connect it to a water supply. I was so surprised that it didn’t smell at all and was actually very comfortable to use. They did tell us though that when it’s full it can weigh about 20kgs so it’s better to take it out half-full, then dump it in a special place.
Electricity in ecovillages
We had electricity, but we barely even needed it. They had a great system where they would use their hybrid car to charge/use small appliances – for example, I would plug my camera to charge in the boot of the car into a special socket and that’s how I dried my hair too (there was one morning that was coldish)
The house also had internet access, but I was so excited with everything that was happening at the festival that I forgot to ask how they connect – I will ask and write it here later.
They also have solar panels, which is enough for the summer (it was over 30 degrees!).
The food in eco-communities
During the first morning, my grandma ventured back into the forest (this time with wellies and mozzie-proof clothes) and picked wild strawberries and blueberries for breakfast – I woke up to find them on the pillow next to me, how perfect!
We went to have food with everyone, they had tea, we brought berries, dates, honey and raisins and that was the perfect breakfast, nothing else was needed. One morning we also had cedar nut milk with honey, mmm.
Generally speaking, it was incredibly easy being a raw vegan there. I would say even it was more natural than cooking and making “normal” things. People there just walk around and pick up a cucumber, eat it, half an hour later they may come to take a tomato. I believe they’re much healthier living like this than like we do in cities, more mono-raw even. One day we bought a huge watermelon and ate the whole thing over the course of the day.
Travelling around eco villages
It was a lovely surprise to see people cycling, even the elderly, however, I think the majority of people who live there own a car. I think one would struggle to get to even the nearest shop if they didn’t, we only saw shops in the big town, Vladimir, a lot of the people there though grow their own fruits and vegetables and then marinate them for the winter. They do go to shops once in a while and also swap/buy between neighbours.
I thought it was a great idea to have a hybrid car in a place like this, I’m obviously pro eco-cars anyway but it made a lot of sense to have one there to add a little boost to the electricity for the house.
Overall it was a magnificent experience, I would even go as far as to say it was the best weekend of my life. Could I live like this? – during the summer, definitely yes, but only as long as there is a shower and some form of a toilet that doesn’t require venturing into evil-insect-land 🙂 I can’t say much about winter because I haven’t experienced it for myself, when I asked how they shower when ice forms over the pond, the answer was: “we drill a hole and jump in”!! That’s including the 2 and 6-year-olds! No wonder they don’t get sick. I would say a definite yes to somewhere like this in more Western Europe, but only for temperature reasons, I’ve never been to a more beautiful place to go to in summer.