Brigitte and Patrick Baronnet were both teachers in Paris when, one day, they decided to leave everything behind to live in a house they bought for almost nothing in the French region, Loire Atlantique. For 30 years, the family hasn’t paid a single water or electricity bill.
It has been 40 years since they moved there, and their lifestyle has completely changed.
When they left their old lives behind and moved to this house, they began to analyze their needs, trying to eliminate the ones created by marketing. Then they tried to start meeting their needs themselves.
“Self-sufficiency means being responsible for your own life and choosing what you consider essential,” Patrick says. In this case, the couple have chosen to be dependant on the four elements for what they believe to be essential.
In winter, they use a wood-fuelled heating system. They don’t have to pay rent, after entirely rebuilding the house themselves.
In order to avoid using an electricity provider, they installed 64 1/2 square feet of solar panels and a wind turbine to generate electricity from the sun and wind.
The house also has a composting toilet, because as Patrick says, “What’s the point of putting our organic waste in the drinking water?”
All waste is kept: sawdust and vegetable waste are put in a compost which helps make a very effective and rich soil for the garden.
Dirty water from the washing machine and shower is filtered through a series of different plant beds.
Their lifestyle is so economical, that they have been able to live on a half-salary for 30 years, while sustaining a family of six. They respect the natural world around them and do not feel they are missing out on anything. Today, Brigitte and Patrick have been joined by other families who wanted to try a different way of living.
Patrick and Brigitte’s perspective is influenced by their roles as teachers. They say, “We bought a house that we did not spend any time in, we paid people to raise our children while we were raising other people’s. We did not have time to talk to each other. At one point, nothing made sense anymore.”
You can learn more about their lifestyle in this video (in French, English subtitles available):
The way these people live and how they describe it is something quite different. Perhaps they offer a solution to the environmental issues our planet is facing. Can we open our eyes and try new things that are good for us and for the environment?