Sustainability in Sidney B.C.

We’ve all heard the expressions green-living, eco-friendly, and sustainable, but what does it really mean, to live sustainably? The basic definition of sustainable living is the attempt to reduce our carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet. The goal is to maintain and manage the earth’s natural resources by consuming less and re-using more. But how and where does one begin reducing and reusing? How can we alter the size of our footprint?

According to Sidney B.C.-based couple, Laura Parker and Thomas Teuwen, the best place to start is in our own community. To engage in an activity where you can experience sustainability first-hand is a step in the right direction (visit community gardens, tour eco-house designs, local farms etc.)

“We want people to know sustainability is possible to achieve anywhere”

The inspiration to live more sustainably began twelve years ago when Parker and Teuwen decided to go car-free. Not long after that, they became vegetarian. In 2006, they purchased a city lot in Sidney and decided to build their own home. During the planning stages of designing their house and deciding how to build it, they came up with a blueprint for a small footprint house. Everything from the size (750sqft on the main floor) to the LEED and FSC certified materials used was done with the intent to consume less and repurpose more— the cabinetry was hand built by Teuwen and Parker, the timber recycled, and the construction waste zero. The entire house is plumbed and ready for solar conversion in the near future; the roof is designed to facilitate rain barrel catchments. All of the soil from the building site (it’s as precious as gold to these two) was reserved and dispersed around the property. The gardens are a vibrant working project, jam-packed with plants, trees, and seedlings.

Overall, the house took five years to complete, which doesn’t faze them in the slightest; they did it themselves. “You can’t put a value on time,” says Teuwen. “You only get to do things once and the experience is what it’s all about. Living a sustainable existence is what we love to do.”

Harvest time
Garden Seedling
Front and backyard gardens

Community is an integral part of their lifestyle, too, and sharing what they’ve learned along the way is important to them. “We want people to know sustainability is possible to achieve anywhere, not just for someone living in the country with acreage. It has to be doable anywhere,” says Teuwen. “It’s simply not sustainable if it’s not replicable.”

Growing their own food is a major component of their lifestyle. The couple produces almost everything they consume, and what they don’t eat fresh, they preserve. Aside from the main staples such as oats, rice, and grains, Parker and Teuwen are busy growing, making, drying, or baking it themselves. Some of the goods they create are vegan cheese, vegan mayonnaise, homemade crackers and sourdough bread, dried teas and legumes, and preserves such as sauerkraut, tomatoes, jams, and sauces. They make a delicious country wine from apples and plums left over from their fruit trees. The neighborhood market (located on their property) is also a great place to swap and share garden surplus.

It might seem like a lot to tackle, deciding to live more sustainably, but a few minutes with this couple and the idea becomes less daunting. Start simple. Start local. Meet your neighbors and share. The more we know how to build it, fix it, and grow it, the more rewarding our accomplishments and the smaller our footprint becomes.

Laura Parker and Thomas Teuwen (Sustainable Lifestyle Strategies)

Sidney, B.C. Canada

(250) 656-8646





Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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