Heartland couple shares secrets to sustainable living

The Milkweed Mercantile is located at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Northeast Missouri.

Living without flushing toilets, central heat or a dryer for your clothes may seem like a big sacrifice, but at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, living sustainably is nothing new.

â??We're trying to demonstrate that one can live more sustainably, and be really happy doing it. That Sustainability isn't about deprivation, it's not what you're doing without, it's what you're doing with and it's how one's life can be really joyful and full and fantastic while at the same time being thoughtful and using less,â?? said Alline Anderson, a resident of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Anderson and her husband Kurt Kessner moved to Dancing Rabbit over a decade ago and they've never looked back.

"We wanted to find a way to support ourselves that was in alignment with our values and enabled us to live here at Dancing Rabbit and work together and spend time together and hang out with our friends and then help Dancing Rabbit grow,â?? said Anderson.

And they've done just that. In 2010 they opened the Milkweed Mercantile, an Eco-Inn and Café that allows visitors to learn more about the Ecovillage and how they live sustainably.

â??We're doing sustainability and horticulture and organic gardening and building with straw bales and clay and all these other alternative methods and you know we use renewable energy, and people are excited about that and they don't know how to connect,â?? said Anderson.

At the Mercantile guests get to stay in a strawbale building, shower in rainwater, and eat locally grown food prepared right in front of their table.

â??Our mission is to demonstrate what Dancing Rabbit is doing and to be a place where people can ask questions and feel comfortable, where they can come and experience what we're doing,â?? said Anderson.

Both Anderson and Kessner realize not everyone can move to an Eco-Village like Dancing Rabbit, but they say there are several things you can do to increase sustainability in your own home, like unplugging unused appliances, or switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact florescent bulbs.

Also important is limiting your water consumption by fixing any leaky sinks or faucets and making sure to turn off the water all the way off when youâ??re finished using it.

â??Water is going to be the next oil in the world, you know, already people are dying over water you know um, obtaining it so on and so forth, uh the average American uses 49,134 gallons of water,â?? said Kessner.

"You know wherever you are, really there are things that need to be done and there are steps that you can take and you know, it's like giving power back to the grid. If everyone did a little bit, it'd be huge, it'd be amazing,â?? said Anderson.

So whether or not you choose to throw out your dryer and hang your clothes on a line, or just remember to turn your lights off from time to time, the Rabbits believe every little bit helps.

â??Itâ??s not about deprivation, it's about really examining what is the most meaningful thing in your life, you know and focus your life energy on that, you know. On family on connection,â?? said Kessner.

"I just want people to do what they can, to feel like maybe they're making a difference and that if they have any questions, come see us we're happy to talk about it,â?? said Anderson.

The Ecovillage is located just north of Rutledge, Mo. and is open for tours if you call ahead. The Bed and Breakfast at Milkweed Mercantile is closed for the winter, but will reopen to visitors in April, and the Café is open year round. All are welcome to attend pizza night at the Mercantile every Thursday or regular Sunday brunch.

For more information on the Mercantile and ways you can live more sustainably, click here.

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