Cuba: Simple Solutions for Simple Living

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Simply designed composting toilets are a perfectly legal and sustainable option throughout the country. Just make sure you follow the directions!

There was so much to take in. Without Starbucks at every corner and big box eyesores in every community Cuba has been leading a green revolution since the fall of the Soviet Union. That’s when the country was largely cut off from foreign aid and catapulted into crisis mode or what is known as the ‘Special Period’ ending in the year 2000. With the US embargo still in full swing (Yes, the US has only stopped travel restrictions for Americans and no longer views it an enemy nation), the country is exemplary in its sustainable design, organic, localized food production, small scale business, appropriate technology and all round inventive ingenuity making do with what can be found, fixed or retrofitted…sometimes all three!  

Find photos of what I observed and a film on the topic I highly recommend below.  It’s really that simple…

The following are more photos of what I observed:


  1. A street vendor selling locally baked bread off the back of his bike pedals toward me. He sells it still hot from his insulated trailer made of recycled plastic.
  2. A colourful produce vending bike makes its way to the centre of townIMG_20160427_192002210IMG_20160215_154129979

3. The sun sets over well dried rooftop laundry. Harnessing the sun and making good use of limited space!
4. You can valet park your bike for the day quite affordably and securely. Clearly many do…


5. This new housing development features solar hot water. Harnessing the energy from the sun is a no brainer especially here and despite the embargo sustainable, self-sufficient solar power is on the rise. Notice the chicken centre stage? Yeah, that’s Bertha. Free roaming chickens forage and fertilize the block. With gallinas in every ‘hood, I’m reminded meat doesn’t come shrink wrapped naturally…


6. Organiponico “El Ranchon,” close to the centre of town (Sancti Spiritus, yay!) it grows local veg, some fruit and herbs sold for consumption by local residents. Without massive scale mono-cropping and by using permaculture and organic ag techniques the pitfalls of large scale conventional ag are nil. Hence, biodiverse, seasonal, organic bounty can be enjoyed by all, not just the 99%. There is a burgeoning movement of youth becoming regenerative farmers as food security is such a central issue and the government encourages farming. Without GMO’s and honeybees that don’t sting, Cuba might be my agricultural oasis. Let’s hope it doesn’t change with renewed US relations…




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