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Learn how to live more sustainably from the experts

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 September 2017

Chris Southall and Rosie Dodds are opening their eco-home in Clacton to the public on September 9 and 10. Photo: ARCHANT

Chris Southall and Rosie Dodds are opening their eco-home in Clacton to the public on September 9 and 10. Photo: ARCHANT

Archant

Anyone who wants to live more sustainably but isn’t sure where to start can find out all they need to know from a couple who, like Tom and Barbara in classic 1970s sitcom, The Good Life, have opted out of the ‘rat race’ for a simpler lifestyle, writes Sheena Grant.

Chris Southall and Rosie Dodds will open their ‘EcoDIY’ house, a 1930s bungalow bought in 2007, to visitors with the aim of sharing their considerable knowledge.

The couple run the house and garden on permaculture principles - a sustainable design system providing for human needs while having positive affects on the local environment too, recycle water, use solar energy and waste wood for heating and cooking, consume less, grow and produce their own vegetables, fruit, eggs, honey and logs (and trade surplus with others).

A look at Chris and Rosie’s website shows that fundamental to their approach is a willingness to be creative and repurpose things others would regard as rubbish.

They use waste wood and insulation offcuts from a nearby industrial estate, have vegetable beds made from “scrounged” materials and got a greenhouse through Freecycle, an online site where people give away unwanted goods to keep them out of landfill.

Chris says the open day will be a chance for people to find out whether it’s worth having a greenhouse, how much work keeping chickens or bees involves and how well a solar hot water system works with a woodstove.

“Our well-insulated house, with wood-fired cooking, central heating, solar electricity and hot water will be open as well as the permaculture garden, which supplies more than enough fruit and vegetables for a family, even in a built-up area,” says Chris, who has a background in engineering as well as growing.

“Rainwater systems, a well and reed bed supply water for the garden; chickens and bees complete the picture.”

The eco-house at 193 Burrs Road, Clacton, CO15 4LN, is open on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September, 10am to 4pm.

The couple will be available to discuss individual lifestyle or practical questions.

Visit their website to learn more.

Share your tips via email or tweet them to #ThriftyLiving.

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