I was watching an episode of the MTV documentary series True Life, and a group of people elected to live "off the grid" for a year. The grid is our modern life - all our conveniences, energy, technology and the like.
Living off the grid is how we all used to live. Fishing and hunting, recycling everything, only unprocessed, natural foods, using renewable resources and generally living a life in nature, using no modern conveniences or technology whatsoever.
Living off the grid is unthinkable for most of us. We are utterly dependent on energy, technology and the instant gratification that it affords us. Living in the outdoors, eating raw meats and using the forest as our bathroom is almost laughable in a world where we have 4 different shower gels in our bathroom, drive SUVs and check our email a dozen times a day.
The benefits to living off the grid are fairly obvious. Unprocessed foods make us healthier. Using only natural, renewable resources or energy allows the planet to recycle itself with few repercussions. Self-sufficiency allows us an autonomy that we gave up long ago.
Are there downsides? Looking at the documentary - the group looked miserable, cold, dirty and had formed no bond by the time the documentary crew ended. They were lonely, isolated and frustrated. The world has progressed too much to regress to living off the grid. We are permanently on the grid but that grid is overworked, and under repaid.
So if we're not prepared to go without shaving our legs, coloring our hair, wearing makeup or using our laptops, how can we make living on the grid better - and more sustainable? There are some simple ways.
Recycle everything that is recyclable. Eat as much organic as you can - the food is better and lasts longer in your home. Consider a vegetarian lifestyle or go vegetarian two days a week. Only drive when really necessary and consider a hybrid. Unplug computers, phones, TVs, radios and lights when not in use. Use energy efficient appliances and low energy light bulbs.
Keep your thermostat low in winter and high in summer.
Bike or walk as much as possible.
Bring your own cloth grocery bags to the store.
Buy your books second hand or use the library.
Clean with vinegar or lemon juice instead of chemicals.
Combine trips to the gas station, bank, grocery store and school.
Cut your children's hair yourself and reuse their clothes - cutting the feet out of pajamas gives them another year of usefulness and baby girl dresses make beautiful toddler and preschooler smock tops!
Barter and exchange clothes and toys with friends. Hit garage sales and estate sales instead of new furniture stores - often the furniture is better, a lot cheaper and you are recycling.
Carpool with co-workers and walk to lunch.
There are many more ways to live like you are off the grid, while you're on the grid! It's simply not practical for us all to leave our homes and take our kids into the forests to live! But we can live a lot more responsibly in the modern world and it's fairly effortless in the end.
For more tips, check out the National Resources Defense Council at http://www.nrdc.org/greenliving/?gclid=CP_hor66mJYCFQKHxwodI24zmw
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Would you live off the grid? How do you live a healthy, responsible life while on the grid? Share your tips with us!
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