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How to Survive

Take some extreme water conservation tips from Cody Lundin, owner of the Aboriginal Living Skills School and resident of an off-grid, passive solar home in the high Arizona desert. “Every drop that flows off your property, you’ve screwed up,” he says. “What we try to do is get two, if not three, uses for water.” (!!) First, for drinking: Set up cisterns or barrels and use your roof and gutters to harvest rain (check regulations; private water collection, while recently decriminalized in Colorado, is illegal in some western states). Calculate a roof’s approximate yearly water yield by multiplying your region’s annual rainfall by the roof’s square footage and the figure 7.48, which will convert area to gallons. Indoors, knock out the kitchen sink pipe and use a five-gallon bucket to collect gray water for garden irrigation. Also keep showers to a minimum—use a pressurized hand sprayer for cat baths—and exchange the standard-issue toilet, a huge water waster, for a composting model. Or, well, “I piss on my fruit trees and plants because it’s free fertilizer and I’m also watering the plant,” Lundin says. “We’re like the Fremen in Frank Herbert’s Dune out here. But it’s no different than what native cultures did in this very spot for a long, long time.”

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