Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Living Off Grid - A Look at Sustainability

2/24/2012 1:49:26 PM

Tags: off grid, living off grid, sustainable, Ed Essex

Sustainability ( my word) has become a popular term in the past few years. A few people have been preaching it for many years but most of us are just starting to catch on in the past decade or so.

Websters Dictionary defines sustainable as:
a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

Garden GoodsA lot of people think that if you live off grid you are being “sustainable”. I don‘t agree with that but there are certainly aspects of our off grid lifestyle that are sustainable. We grow as much of our own food as we can and that food produces its own seeds so we can do it over and over again. We heat our home with wood that comes from trees that we grow on our property. We will never use as much wood as we can grow so our heat source is entirely sustainable.

I like to think of recyclable materials as sustainable. Anything you re-use by way of recycling is helping to keep that resource from being depleted or permanently damaged.

 Hot FireWe heat our home with a masonry heater that is 95 to 98% efficient. It burns so efficiently there is almost nothing left to emit into the atmosphere. We had the designer/mason attach a masonry kitchen stove to our heater. We use that to heat our house in the milder temperatures and to cook with. Every time we use it to cook or heat we are saving on propane use. Because our trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen it is possible that we are actually having a positive impact on the environment instead of a negative one. I’m not talking about global warming here, just common sense that producing toxic greenhouse gases can’t possibly be a good thing. The less we produce the better.

Walking and even riding a bicycle are forms of sustainability. You are helping to keep the fossil fuels from becoming depleted. Buying a used home is another example of sustainability. For that matter buying used anything would also apply.

Should we feel guilty if we aren’t 100% sustainable? I don’t think so. To be completely sustainable, one would have to live completely off the land using food, shelter, and tools that came from the land. That isn’t really a practical reality in todays modern world, however having said that, I can also say there isn’t any excuse for wasteful activities that are entirely preventable.

We all have different ideas about how far we as a society should go towards sustainability but I don’t think anyone can argue that sustainability is a good thing and anything you do in that regard is a step in the right direction and the sooner the better.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com  and offgridworks.com.

 



Related Content

How Do You Support Sustainable Farming?

Here's a helpful guide to help you make sustainable choices while shopping or out to eat. What else ...

Taking the Steps We Can to Live More Sustainably

In most cases, we can't do all of the things we would like to live more sustainable lives — at least...

Puyallup Speaker Spotlight: Ann Larkin Hansen

Ann Larkin Hansen of Storey Publishing will present four workshops on sustainable farming and bugs a...

Living Off Grid - End Of A Season

Things that occur when switching from summer to winter mode. Fall is almost non existent.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

Teresa Grimes
4/28/2012 2:06:04 AM
I would like to get more info on the masonary wood heaters Ed Essex and his wife are using. Our goal for me and my husband is to be as green/off the grid as we can. We have used wood for heat for almost 20 years but need a more efficent way and really llike what he has done. If he could guide us on how they accomplished this we would be great full.







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.