As promised in my last entry, I’ll fill you in on how is the project coming along. I assigned myself into this while we were living in a flat near the center of Ljubljana, in a very urban area. We had just renovated our place to meet the needs of a small family, when the unexpected happened, and we had to ‘leave everything’ and move to Bosnia.
It’s been difficult to follow the goals I made for the year, as our life has turned from two grown ups with a kid, a cat and a dog, to running a guesthouse and a small farm on a mountain in Bosnia. We employ one person who stays with us for over three weeks per month, day and night. We have two donkeys, three goats, five dogs, two cats, and some chickens. We have guests, from having a coffee or lunch to staying over for several nights, any number between 10-50 every week.
To this:Our home is separate from the guesthouse, with a distance of almost four kilometers, yet it’s hard to separate the two completely. We eat at the guesthouse, but I wash the guesthouse’s heavy laundry at home. Are the cars our own or the guesthouse’s? We use them for our personal needs, but we couldn’t run the house without them (although we are looking to downsize from three to two, one extra car was left behind from my mother-in-law). Are the animals our own pets? Yes. Or are they attractions at the guesthouse? Yes, that too.
I tried to sum up our successes and things we still need to work on.
We’ve succeeded on the following:
- Reducing the number of disposable diapers – time to time, there are good and bad weeks to this
- Reducing the number of garbage bags (not counting, but approximately to the 3 I was aiming at)
- Saving energy by putting electrical devices off, washing only full machines, keeping inside temperature at around 18-20, and changing light bulbs into energy saving ones.
- Giving away goods we don’t need
- Having 2 vegetarian days per week, and sometimes more
- Learned to use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning
+ Buying only the fresh food stuffs that are in season
+ Buying the very minimum of any packaged goods (such being for example butter, baking powder, sugar, flour, coffee, yoghurt, oils, salt etc.)
+ All vegetables, fruit, meat and local dairy products (milk, sour milk and young cheese) we buy from the local producers and the Sarajevo market
– Driving further to go food shopping
The official organic certification is still a rarity in Bosnia, but for the luck of the consumer, many producer simply can’t afford to fertilise or poison their crops from pesticides. We tend to go to the producers we know personally and are aware of their way of keeping the land and animals. Also we get a lot of food stuffs from local people that provide us with berries, mushrooms, fruits from the wild or their own private gardens. etc. For example in September we’ve had neighbours visiting the guesthouse, on their way back home from the forest, bags full of wild mushrooms for us to buy.
+ Shopping less for personal use than perhaps ever before
+ Easier and more efficient recycling or upcycling of many old or worn out stuffs
+ Not really having the need or wish to ‘go shopping’, wearing my old woolen sweaters and aged boots really fits the mountain style
– Buying quite a few new items for guesthouse use
– Buying far more new books than I thought I would (not really even feeling bad about it…)
We’ve adapted well to the mountain life, too well, some might say. Having a shower every morning is simply not needed, using make-up on a daily base seems silly. Running the guesthouse doesn’t require stylish outfits or a new bag per season. (We’ve been now surviving on what we’ve estimated perhaps 1/3 of what we used to make in Slovenia. No shopping has been a case of pure survival.)
The amount of car maintenance and spare parts has risen dramatically since we started driving the rough dirt roads, day in day out, whatever the weather.
+ Consuming less, buying less packaged goods equals to less garbage
– With the guesthouse’s garbage bags we’ve gone higher, of course
Energy and natural resources
+ Heating home half-and-half with gas and wood (the fire place and kitchen stove), keeping inside temperature at about +18 during winter months
+ Heating guesthouse with wood only, and preparing all food there with fire, either open fire on the traditional barbecue or on the wood stove in the kitchen
+ Living on the mountain, we’re blessed with natural, local water
+ The electricity could (and should) be produced minimum 50 % of solar power, perhaps some even wind (this is on our to do list, once we can afford the solar panels etc.)
+ Travelled far less this year comparing to the previous ten years of both our lives
+ Did most of the travelling by car or train (Sarajevo-Ljubljana and Sarajevo-Montenegro)
– Flew to Finland (all three of us) to visit my family, and I’ve flown twice one way between Ljubljana and Sarajevo.
It’s been a slow year for travelling because of being busy at the guesthouse. Staying put has been a necessity.
What we don’t need or use, or use less than we used to:
- Tumble dryer. All our personal and guesthouse laundry is line dried
- Dishwasher. We hand wash all dishes
- Air miles. Though we’ve flown, it’s still pretty minimal considering having family and ‘homes’ all around Europe
- All packaged foods. Buying most things from the market and local producers directly
- My ‘girlie’ items like perfume, make-up, magazines, etc. Don’t feel the need
- Minimise driving. We should be able to cut down driving on several days of the week (ie. driving with one instead of two cars)
- Fixing isolation at home. Heating the house is not as economical and ecological as it could be
- Swapping all washing liquids etc. and kitchen and other home appliances to more green and ecological. Will be done one thing at a time, when old ones run out or get broken
(Oh, and just to let you know: Soon this blog will be found at http://mountrewild.org, as I’m uniting my two blogs and also finishing the year long project.)