In recent years, there’s been growing interest in off-grid living as a sustainable alternative. City dwellers want to choose the simple life.
Some brave folk plunge headfirst into relocating to remote locations in the wilderness bereft of all amenities.
Others are experimenting with taking small steps towards a more sustainable life. Let’s consider the draws of such a lifestyle and practical actions you can take if the idea of living sustainably off the grid appeals to you.
What is off-grid living?
Off-grid living means living without connection to a public power grid or water and sewer system. Disconnection from infrastructures requires the means to generate your own power, identify a water source, and deal with waste. Many off-grid dwellers also grow and rear food to live sustainably.
Of course, for a great number of people around the world, off-grid living is a necessity rather than a choice. Those in remote parts of the globe and some developing nations lack the infrastructure for grid living.
Statistics show that 13% of the world do not have access to electricity. Whilst that figure is shrinking, thanks for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it is also true that a sustainable future involves renewable energy. The UN is working hard to increase renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Basic human needs include energy, shelter, water, and heat. It is possible to meet them through sustainable non-grid options comfortably in a way that enriches life. Indeed, the “tiny house” movement has proved a draw to those who seek freedom from insecure rentals and excessive mortgages. Those who want modern luxuries in small, simple living spaces can often find them in bijou, often self-built properties powered by solar, wind and/or biomass.
Benefits of off-grid living
A commitment to off-grid sustainable living requires an investment of time and labor. It also provides dividends. A research study into off-grid dwellers in rural Utah found that participants frequently cited independence provided by off-grid living as a positive factor. They also noted the sense of intra-community neighborliness among most residents. Local people pitched in to help and share skills and resources with one another.
Many people taking smaller steps towards off-grid living seek the positive effects of contributing to a more sustainable future. They find that moves towards off-grid living results in a more holistic and nature-based lifestyle. It takes them away from pollution, noise, and the stress that can come with an urban lifestyle.
Indeed, off-grid living also provides financial pluses: Downsizing and simplifying can result in savings for the household. Business benefits too. The global off-grid solar sector is worth $1.75 billion annually, with additional growth predicted.
Making the transition to off-grid living.
Off-grid living doesn’t have to be all or nothing, though. You can take plenty of steps and actions to move towards a more sustainable, less reliant future. Let’s look at three off-grid options you can implement today.
Reduce your reliance on plastic
Plastic comes from non-sustainable crude oil. It also poses disposal problems, taking years to decompose. A simple way to rely less on the waste-disposal infrastructure is to generate less plastic waste in the first place. Prefer paper or glass packaging. These are far easier to reuse and re-deploy within the home. That makes you less reliant on the energy sources needed to process or recycle waste.
Steer clear of plastic bags and any single-use plastic products. Make it your mission to be a low-plastic or plastic-free home.
Aim for cleaner air
Avoid reliance on fossil fuels which, when burnt, generate harmful and toxic compounds. Instead, choose green options such as wind or solar power to generate the energy you need. If you can’t invest in installing your own wind turbine or biomass system just yet, look to switch to an energy provider who produces electricity using these eco methods.
It’s also important to consider how you might ensure the air inside your home is also clean and free from pollutants. Avoid paint and furniture that release toxic VOCs. Purchase second hand, wooden item, free from toxic stains, if possible. For more tips, check out this article on improving the air quality in your home.
Waste not, want not
In the move towards off-grid and sustainable living, waste is your enemy. Products and raw materials take energy to create and extract, as well as process or even recycle. So wasting anything of use is akin to pouring money down the drain. Aim to generate as little waste as possible, and always consider what other use something classed as “waste” might have.
A great example here is vegetable scraps and shredded paper. Often simply disposed of, these are valuable assets to anyone growing their own produce. They make excellent compost fodder, as do pet dander, coffee grounds, and even vacuum dust. Likewise, overripe fruit and veggies can be turned into delicious bakes and soups with a little bit of research and time.
Think too of making efficient use of the power and resources you use: bake and then store more than one thing at a time when you use the oven. Syphon off bath water to use as gray water for flushing toilets. Save cooking water as a nutritious feed for plants. Waste as little as possible is the great mantra for off-grid sustainable living.
So – if you’re curious about a self-sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle, it pays dividends to give some of these tips a try. You will undoubtedly think of other ways to make the move towards off-grid living. And you can soon appreciate the health and wellbeing benefits of this natural lifestyle. The planet and future generations will thank you for it.
Jade Piper is a small business owner and part-time blogger. She is passionate about the environment, healthy living, and cooking.