Living Off Grid - A Look at Sustainability

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/living-off-grid-a-look-at-sustainability.aspx

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.