Why The Green Lever? Leaving Town for a simpler, better life in the Country.

“Give me a lever long enough…and I will move the World” was Archimedes’ claim. He was writing of mechanics but in this blog I will be pursuing the reality of moving or changing two worlds, our own individual milieu and by knock-on effect, that of the Planet. Perhaps the thing people fear the most is change but we have arrived at a point of mass consumerism that makes change inevitable and so we either take control now and direct it, or just let it happen and become a victim. Green Lever is also a play on words because it explains what we did with our own lives. Simply put, we left and became more green. Yes, we were low consumers of the Earth’s resources and we were eating organic food but we never felt we were doing enough to help the Planet. Green Lever too because it was a new adventure and we didn’t quite know how well it would work out.

Going backwards to go forwards and not being ground down

The overall effect of  taking control of your consumption of resources such as energy water and food and then going even further and starting to provide them for yourself, is to free yourself from the consequences of inevitable incremental or catastrophic collapse. That was our thinking. Some friends and relatives put it another way, they believed we were mad, leaving jobs, wasting the years we spent in education to go playing peasants in a derelict 18th Century longère in a country, where only one of us spoke the language.

Over the past ten years, living in a rural backwater with a 1000 m² of garden we have had both opportunity and time to experiment with reducing our consumption. Concurrently we have expanded our knowledge of and practical skills in, smallholding, growing and storing food, alternative medicines, animal husbandry and ecological building materials and techniques. I have used my knowledge of engineering in a practical way and have gained another language. In fact neither of us have ever used our education and skills to such an extent as in these past few years.

Living off the Land – Waste not want not

The best 1000 Euros we ever spent!
The amazing paradox of present-day society is, that without the legacy of decades of mass consumption, we recyclers, upcyclers and back-to-the-land homesteaders  would not have the basic materials with which we work. Wherever you live you will have access to resources, these may be local, natural building materials such as earth, clay, stone and straw or man-made detritus such as tyres, pallets, discarded windows and doors. When thinking about energy, you should look at the best use of available resources. We chose to heat with wood originally because there was plenty of wood available. Over the years we stopped buying wood, firstly because we didn’t like killing trees and secondly because we found a major source of free wood, which was either being burned in bonfires or going into landfill. Over these next weeks I want to visit and film some of my friends homes where they have chosen different forms of energy production, these will include, heat exchangers, solar, wind, vegetable oil generators, geothermal and woodchip.

However, let’s start with just one of  them. We heat our home and water with it, cook with it and use it to build a myriad of things for our home and garden.

The Ubiquitous Pallet 

A film showing how to dismantle a pallet to maximize the recuperation of usable construction wood. Including the tools you will need and three separate pallet 'scenarios'.  

Thanks for dropping by and feel free to share this article, comment, ask questions and relate your own experiences. Hope to see you next time.

Cheers, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014


  1. if you are stripping pallet to reuse the timebr you will not go wrong having one of these:


    I have a Cargo Cycles Pallet Stripping Bar and it really is as easy as they claim.

    They can be contacted on 447758786036 or cargo-cycles@live.co.uk

    1. Thanks for your comment, I've had a look at the video and you're right it is a neat solution to the problem. Happy stripping!

  2. What a great a great blog. So many ideas and a lot of inspiration. Thanks I will keep checking this out.