Last week’s post introduced you to Ashleigh Sergeant, our #FWOTM that lives the yogi talk, naturally and sustainably. We learned she not only teaches people to “build a life you love” in spirit, but also in physical form with the example of the beautiful sustainable home she and her husband Justin recently built in Costa Rica (pictured above).
Fueled by a love for mother nature and protecting the planet for generations to come, this week Justin and Ashleigh share in their own words through this exclusive guest blog post, a more detailed look at three specific sustainable aspects of their new home that make it special and more friendly to the environment.
Recycled Shipping Container – The central structure of the home is a 40ft high cube recycled shipping container. There are currently over 17 million shipping containers in the world right now and only 5 or 6 million are actively being used for global shipping on vessels, boats, trucks and trains. This leaves millions of inactive shipping containers laying around in ship yards, junk yards, dumps and recycling centers. Instead of tossing these incredibly durable and structurally sound items aside, people around the world are recycling them to create artistic, eco-friendly homes and structures.
We purchased our used container here in Costa Rica from a shipping yard near the capital city of San Jose. Shipping containers are all 8ft wide, 8ft tall and either 20 or 40ft long. The “high cube” containers, which only come in the 40ft length are 9.5 feet tall. Because the popularity of building with these vessels is increasing in Costa Rica, the prices have sky rocketed. Our high cube cost us $3,500, which totaled about $5,000 after delivery. In the US, containers are still extremely affordable.
Shipping containers are structurally built to withstand the weight of being stacked up to 9 containers at a time. This makes them extremely structurally sound and a great platform to build from since the infrastructure is already in tact to create second and third story homes. This statistic was one of our key motivators in using a container to build because it made it very easy for a quick build and move-in.
Living Fence – The fence surrounding our property (you need a fence in Costa to both claim your land and to keep your neighbors cows from destroying your land!) is a “Living Tree Fence.” This means that the fence posts are all living trees. When the fence is planted the trees are just tiny little sticks. It’s incredible, here the jungle is so fertile you can literally just stick the end of a branch in the dirt (for some trees) and it will grow roots and become a tree! Not only does this method use natural materials but it also provides shade and can be used to support an agroforestry system on the property. Agroforestry uses strategic placement of trees and shrubs among other crops or pasture to facilitate a sustainable land use system. Combining both forestry and agriculture principles, agroforestry creates more productive, healthy, diverse and sustainable usage of the land. In our situation, we planted trees that are “nitrogen fixers” which have been used in perennial agriculture for millennia. Nitrogen fixing trees help to restore nutrients and fertility back to the land while also moderating harsh conditions.
Biodigestor – The septic system in our home is called a biodigestor which uses anaerobic digestion to process the waste which can then be used as renewable energy. The collection process gathers biodegradable waste into an area with the absence of oxygen where microorganisms break it down. The result is super clean water being returned right back to the land and harvestable methane gas. We use this gas as fuel for our tankless hot water heater — a completely renewable and sustainable system!
Thanks so much for your interest in our journey!
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Ashleigh and Justin