2019 Eco Living and Home Tour: Ideas, Information, Inspiration

Headlines announcing biodiversity collapse and climate catastrophe can feel paralyzing. Even the most committed environmentalists may not know where to turn for solid information on the kinds of innovative — and dramatic — lifestyle changes that experts say will be need to weather the coming changes.

Salt Spring’s Eco Living and Home Tour highlights what some people are doing to reduce their carbon footprint and to prepare themselves for an uncertain future. The tour also offers something that is getting harder to find these days: good news. The innovative event offers inspiring examples of ways that people are taking action to transform their ecological footprint and create sustainable, beautiful homes.

Held on Sunday, July 28, from 10am to 4pm, the self-guided tour allows visitors to explore various locations on Salt Spring Island, which has some of BC’s most innovative examples of off-grid living, tiny homes, container homes, eco building and architecture, renewable technologies, sustainable garden design and other planet-friendly ways of living.

Visitors will get to talk with passionate homeowners, builders and contractors about their recommendations for energy efficiency, renewable energy, ecological materials for building, and design solutions. Visitors can explore edible landscapes and hear from gardeners about water catchment systems, compost, solar dehydrators, grey water systems, and organic food production. Off-island visitors will get a feel for Salt Spring's unique “boutique gumboot” style, emblematic of Gulf Islands culture.

According to Barbara Dempster, a Salt spring eco-home tour host, “The Eco Living and Home Tour showcases multiple ways, both large and small, that homeowners have chosen to lower their carbon footprint while still living comfortably.”

“The Eco Living and Home Tour is one of the least expensive ways to get some great ideas about greening your house, reducing your carbon footprint, or downsizing,” says Andrew Haigh, founding member of the ELHT organizing committee whose off-the-grid home has been showcased on the tour. Haigh knows the trials, and joys, of building with the dual considerations of a tight family budget and a minimal carbon footprint: ten years from inception, he’s reaping the rewards of energy self-sufficiency with no monthly hydro bills and landscaping irrigated entirely from household water recycling.

“Going on the tour had a huge impact on our retrofit planning. We saw an off-grid solar system and a rainwater collection system among other conservation elements in the design of one house. We knew we had to follow this and other examples from the tour,” says islander (and green home owner) Ann Wheeler.

The island is Canada's premier electric vehicle location — with the most EV’s per capita of anywhere in the country — and a leading renewable energy destination. Transition Salt Spring also operates EV charging stations, and is a hub for knowledge sharing about electric vehicles and transportation alternatives. This year, Motorize - Your EV Store and Harris Kia will be on island to ask questions and to take a car for a spin!

Held every two years, the ELHT is now in its seventh year. It’s hosted by Transition Salt Spring, a local group that has been helping islanders reduce their ecological footprints for over twenty years. The ELHT is grateful to its presenting sponsors Windsor Plywood, Motorize, Slegg Lumber, Harris Kia, Bearfoot Renewables; its sustaining sponsor is Green City Builders; and its emerging sponsors Salt Spring Island Tiny Homes and Counter Culture Cabinetry.

Tickets are $25 and available at Salt Spring Books and Eventbrite at https://ss-ecotour.eventbrite.ca. Maps will be available the week before the event at Salt Spring Books. Get updates and hear what home owners and sponsors have to say by following our Facebook page (Salt Spring Eco Living and Home Tour) or the Tour's website.

Carpool your way to different sites on the Eco Living and Home Tour! Join Salt Spring Carpool and Rideshare group to coordinate with others.

By Coreen Boucher

Staff Writer, Salt Spring Exchange News

July 3, 2019 10:14 AM