Sunday, May 10, 2009


Look everyone, when I said in a previous post entitled Up and Coming that I wanted you to send me pictures and stories for my next book Shacking Up, I asked for examples of people who live in low-cost to no-cost housing—by choice. I did not mean fancy, sterile, "eco" housing like this...

Why not, you ask? It's green, eco, smallish and built with all the new, sustainable building materials. It probably even has a dual-flush toilet or two, so what's wrong with that?

You're right, there is nothing wrong with that—as an example of today's definition of eco-friendly housing. And yes, it's probably even LEED Certified and all that, but that's NOT what I'm after.

Yes, I understand the thinking out there in the "green community"—I get it.

There are benefits to using all the new "sustainable" building materials being promoted—even though they cost a fortune they are mostly sustainable.

Go ahead, install a $olar voltaic system to help reduce your carbon footprint—I get that too.

Use all the new technologies available to reduce your damage to the environment and our dependence on fossil fuels—I will applaud you.

By all means, go green. If you've got the money, and want to live cooped up in a sterile box—go for it. Living in an expensive non-toxic box may be better than living in a cheaper toxic one—I'll give you that.

Yes, these companies have made it possible to go green and remain pristine. You no longer have to sacrifice luxury to relieve your guilty conscience.

But that's NOT what I am talking about.

The word green has always stood for money—it still does. These days, if you want to make money, just tap into the green, eco-community. If you can label it green and/or natural—we'll buy it—at almost any price.

But nobody seems to want to look at the environmental cost of "going green." What environmental price are we willing to pay for the manufacture and disposal of those energy saving solar panels and those big power inverters? How come nobody talks about that? And what about the manufacture and disposal of ALL those batteries—a HUGE bio-hazard.

And the hybrid revolution? Have we all forgotten that in the '80s and early '90s, we had more than a few cars getting over 40 mpg and some over 50—without fancy hybrid electric power plants using all those batteries that we are going to have to dispose of. (The Honda Civic even had a EPA rating of over 50 mpg—and it got it.)

I could go on and on but why? It there a better way?

Yes, there is a better way—GO BROWN! Come on fellow greenies out there, it's time we changed our colors. You don't have to spend a lot of green to go brown and going brown is about as green as you can get.

What is going BROWN?

It's a hand-built house made of thick earthen or stone walls that NEVER need paint—why use those new, expensive, NO VOC paints? Don't use ANY paint!

It's south facing windows with the right amount of overhang to let in the sun in the winter and keep it out in the summer.

It's a rocket stove or box stove for cooking and heating.

HERE for info.

It's an outdoor shower in the garden—the plants will love it.

It's a composting toilet—not the plastic ones you buy that hook up to electricity, but the hole in the plank with the straw or sawdust in the bucket nearby so you can turn your poo into fertilizer.

Click HERE

HERE for more info.

It's earthen floors, hand-made windows, doors and get the idea. Click HERE for more info.

Going BROWN is all this and so much more.

I just can't call these things green anymore. No one knows what I mean when I use that word. So I'm going to start calling it BROWN. Maybe it will catch on and those of us that love this kind of thing will start referring to it that way.

Now, back to what I have been asking for. I want some examples of BROWN! BROWN houses, BROWN people, people who have chosen to go BROWN because they believe in BROWN. BROWN living and BROWN being.

I want the REAL stuff like THIS:

Tony Wrench's Low-impact roundhouse.

Now there's a solar voltaic system I can get behind and they will never have to re-paint this house!

Looks like he may be pumping water from a hand pump? And look at those beautiful, natural, uncut timbers.

Talk about living in a garden. That is one living, breathing house.

There is no food in the world that will taste better than that which is cooked over an outdoor flame.

Here is a living room that will accommodate a get-together of ANY size.

You can read much more about this fabulous house and lifestyle at the links below:

Click HERE and HERE for lots more information.

This low-impact roundhouse is a great example of going BROWN. I need more like this. If you run across any websites, have pictures of your own or better yet, you are living the BROWN lifestyle, I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

email me at

Spread the word...GO BROWN!!!


Adrienne said...

Power to the Permaculture revolution! My dream house is cob based with a great outdoor shower/ garden, and is set in a community of other "brownies". In an ideal world we would all transition to the "brown" movement and live in "brown" communities. However, while the current green movement does have its money mongers, at least some of the most destructive corporations are actually beginning to consider sustainability. Whether it is for their bottom line or the triple bottom line at least change is occurring :).

Evelyn said...

Oh I love this... Someday!!

Meanwhile, CAC, you put a www. in front of your email address, and so you may not get those emails!

Love you!


Jill said...

Awesome post. I agree...there are definitely two ways to go about sustainability. One involves a lot of new technology that is still expensive and problematic; the other involves using our ingenuity and evolutionary heritage to blend with the natural world. For me, the second is way more appealing. Looking forward to the examples of brown houses you collect!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent post. This is an extremely important point that's often overlooked.

There are lots of good examples:
Simon Dale's Low Impact Woodland Home:
More here:
Our earthbag roundhouse that cost $10/sq. ft.:

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