What Does it Mean to “Live Off the Grid?”
Categories: Homesteading, Energy, Inspiration, Life Stories, On The Farm
Around the same time each month, millions of Americans go to their mailboxes seeking the comforts of a handwritten letter or their favorite magazine only to be greeted by white envelopes with miniature cellophane windows. We're all familiar with these mailers -- power, water, gas and telephone bills, all conspiring to take your hard-earned money. For most people, paying utility bills is a tiresome and frustrating task. What if there was a way to get out from under the thumb of public utilities and produce your own sustainable energy? Well, there is. Going "off-grid" is becoming an increasingly popular choice for people looking to reduce their carbon footprint, assert their independence and avoid reliance on fossil fuels.
"The grid" is a common name for the power grid -- the linked system that delivers electricity to the masses. A typical house is connected to power, natural gas, water and telephone lines. Going off the grid means shunning these public utilities in favor of creating your own energy. Some homeowners choose to be partially off the grid by supplying their own electricity and ditching their phone line, while relying on the convenience of city water and sewage. Others choose to live completely off-grid by digging wells or using a cistern system to collect water. A septic tank takes care of the sewage and, just like that, no more water bill either.
Off-the-grid homes are autonomous; they do not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas, electrical power grid, or similar utility services. A true off-grid house is able to operate completely independently of all traditional public utility services.
“Living off the grid” is not that easy to do in regular old America, but it is possible, and very attractive.
At first you might think about just sleeping in your car and camping for a bit. I think it goes much deeper than that.
Living off the grid is an ultimate change in consciousness. It is the desire to only have what you need, not take from the land, and thrive in conditions that are about as raw as eating straight from your garden.
And, you have to tend a garden.
This whole idea of self-sufficiency in alignment with Mother Earth could have significant benefits besides saving you a great deal of money. It requires a willingness and compassion for plants, animals and all of life.
I have had friends in Hawaii who lived off the grid for a spell. It seems much more conducive to island living than conventional America. But, being on an island, another remote country or perhaps even some rural areas in the south, and living off the grid has become quite attractive to many eco-conscious individuals.
What is living off the grid?
The key is to totally unplug.
That alone is quite difficult for some, especially in this day and age. The Apple Store would completely freak out if the majority chose to live off the grid. Yet, crossing streets without gazing at a phone, driving without texting, and totally being present for each other would be a great place to start.
I’m not entirely there, but the simplicity of it seems so appealing. No technology, no “Grey’s Anatomy” (that’s a tough one), no downloading onto your iPod, no car, no A/C or heat, no electricity, no nothing.
I believe the payoff is a complete surrender to nature, silence, and serenity.
Can it be done in a healthful manner? I think so. It is also extremely mindful. It just needs planning and patience.
I had to inquire more closely on the meaning behind this idea of off-grid living, and why, more than ever, people are choosing that lifestyle.
I can attest to not having a T.V., not being wired for surround anything in my apartment, driving an environmentally-friendly car (whenever I’m not walking all over the place), rarely turning on my A/C or heat, which is quite a task at times in the middle of summer, and the dead of winter, or flushing the toilet without a substantial reason.
Living off the grid requires you to basically live in a tree house or some other environmentally friendly structure. You build a place with materials straight from the earth, your toilet is the woods, you grow and eat your own food and you walk or ride a bike to all destinations.
You don’t own anything that plugs into a wall because you don’t really have walls or outlets and you look skinny, follow a vegan diet with great amounts of hemp products and still call your Mom once a week to say you are okay.
The people I know who live off the grid still follow everything related to the Grateful Dead. I don’t really have an actual vision of this, but I do know that eco-conscious organic living is a good place to start.
Being a minimalist is truly the essence of living off the grid.
Every time I take a trip to Goodwill, get rid of chips and dairy from my diet, and subside on radio music for entertainment, that’s about as close to living off the grid as I can currently muster.
I enjoy visualizing and daydreaming about those who are in communes, nudist camps, retreat centers for healing—these people have lifestyles that truly cater to the “less is more” motto.
Our country could use a few more bazillion of these people. Then, our highways would feel less congested, the corporate structure would evolve into a quality workplace, everyone would engage in real-time conversation with eye-to-eye contact, and the environment wouldn’t be such an ongoing issue.
Grow your own food, eat only what you need to balance the movement in your day, walk as much as possible, ride a commuter bike for transportation, read more and if you have a wanderlust traveling spirit, allow it to take you to places that nourish your easy lifestyle.
Oh, and you might want to purchase a calling card to keep family informed that you are quite okay, happy, content, and looking forward to the upcoming holiday visit.
Yes, it seems like backwards living, but oh how refreshing it can be!