Lessons Learned by Living Off the Grid



When I take stock of my life these days—married, with one child and another on the way, living in a conventional house in Colorado—it seems improbable that I spent a year living alone in an off-the-grid, self-sustaining desert house in New Mexico. It was a time of solitude, characterized by cold winter nights, power outages and water rationing, during which I championed manual labor and practiced self-reliance.

Back in the mainstream today, I too often find myself compromising my conservation habits for convenience. Yet, I’ve been able to happily apply some off-grid lessons for a more conventional, yet still eco-friendly, life.

► Eat your leftovers. It doesn’t matter whether they come from a restaurant or your own kitchen: If you fully consume every piece of food you buy, you will buy less food overall and consume fewer of the planet’s resources.

► Drink only tap water, filtered onsite. If you stop drinking soda, juice, milk, coffee, tea, alcohol and energy drinks, you will consume fewer calories, avoid potentially addictive habits, spend less money and conserve resources.

► Keep the lights off as long as possible, saving both energy and money. At sunset, go outside and turn on all of your senses. Let your eyes adjust to the fading light as a new world unfolds. Listen to the birds settling down for the night as the insect chorus begins and inhale the fresh evening air, feeling its delicious coolness on your skin. By eliminating an artificial evening environment lit with electric bulbs, you are better able to tune in to the natural world that has been present all along.

► Turn off the TV and anything else involving a screen and advertisements. Your purchases will cease to be influenced by the ads—as will the pressure to live beyond your means—and instead be motivated more by simple need. When you spend less, you use less of everything.


Priscilla Short is the author of Thrifty Green, journaling on how to ease up on energy, food, water, trash, transit and other stuff. Find more at ThriftyGreenBook.blogspot.com.

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