Green Living, Hobbit-style

It looks like a house in The Shire, straight out of a Tolkien book, but this one's the real thing. It's a green--literally-- home in Wales, the product of four months of "mucking around" by freelance multitasker Simon Dale, his father-in-law, and whoever else happened to have a free moment to help. The point? To have fun. Oh yeah--and to live sustainably.

According to the "How" portion of Dale's website, the delightful little sod-roofed house started with little more than a few small trees and a hole. Dale chronicles the design elements--straw bales for insulation, trees for structure--in enough detail to give an amateur builder the guidance he or she might need to start, and gleefully uses his own lack of experience as a point of confidence for other would-be architects. 

(Like this one, once he grows up in his family's homemade Shire.)

As far as the why of the matter, Dale addresses sustainability in a variety of ways, from composting toilets to solar panels and sun-heated showers. He also offers advice on "some things we can do," which range from eating less meat to buying secondhand stuff and building a pond. (He's a little gung-ho about the wood-burning stove, though, which isn't feasible everywhere. In some parts of the world, wood-burning stoves are the very bane of the forests people like Dale would so comfortably like to inhabit.)

Then there are the pearls of wisdom we New Yorkers could all use a bit more of: "Work less" and "Smile, laugh, love and dream." They're good words, and I'll gladly take them from a man whose conscience is probably as cozy as his Hobbitly home.

All photos courtesy of

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