“The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.” — Paul Hawken

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lookit, @msegre – your bowl being put to good use!

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The first batch of sour plum jelly in 2010 was the spark. From that point forward I wanted all new plantings at Cannon House to be either productive or requiring no maintenance. Or both!

Since then, we’ve cultivated all sorts of amazing produce—including banana peppers, basil, mint, cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, rose hips, persimmon, blackberries, carrots, multiple types of lettuce, and so much more.

In addition to the excellent produce, we’ve instituted a number of recycling and sustainable standards that far exceed that of traditional households. Hopefully you can steal some of these ideas for your home, too.


  • All standard recyclable items such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, etc.
  • Plastic bags, including: grocery bags, vegetable/produce bags, shipping wrap, and others. Many grocery stores offer receptacles for recycling plastic bags.


  • We’ve diverted all produce-derived food waste from landfills—including vegetables, egg shells, and all coffee grounds.
  • The coffee filters we use at Cannon House are compostable, so the entire spent grounds and filters are added to compost so it doesn’t add to landfills.

Water reclamation

  • Fully 90% of watering on the Cannon House outdoor grounds is achieved using reclaimed rainwater, with cisterns, barrels and drip irrigation.

Other measures

  • In 2014 we eliminated the use of RoundUp as a weed killer and switched to Avenger, which is an organic product that doesn’t add any weird crap to the ecosystem. The dangers of RoundUp to growing children and adults has been widely documented.
  • In our most-recent addition/renovation/preservation we donated the former kitchen’s entire compliment of cabinets to charity. Demo-ing cabinets might make for great TV, but it just creates more impact on landfills. Plus, it’s a tax write-off.
  • Adaptive reuse was a major theme in this latest renovation, where we used reclaimed heart pine for the new den’s flooring, and used reclaimed lathe in the design of a new main-floor bathroom.
  • Our household trash bags are biodegradable; all dog poop bags are biodegradable; we use chemical free hand soap, laundry detergent and much more.

Looking ahead

  • Solar panels
  • Increased cistern functionality
  • Gravity-fed water routing system with multiple additional cisterns

What strategies do you use at your home? Please weigh in using the comment section below!