Clothes When You Are Living Off Grid

Reader Contribution by Aur Beck and Advanced Energy Solutions Group
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When you are Living Off Grid you don’t have tons of chances to get dressed up but rather need hardy clothes that last. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the one or two classy outfits for weddings, funerals, or going out, nor does it mean you can’t have style but since you will be, in general, not dressing to impress you are looking for clothes that will last the long haul.

As I was growing up we washed most of our clothes by hand really scrubbing them over rocks in a creek or over a wash board (yes they have a purpose besides mounting them on a wall or to be used to make music) which is very hard on clothes thus most of our clothes were of thicker cloth usually either cotton or for pants and long sleeves the canvas variety.

When we live off grid we need to produce our own energy for doing laundry to both run the washing machine and pump the water but also to heat the water thus we figure out that having fewer clothes and rewearing the clothes a few times/days means doing less laundry. Thus spending  thousands less money for our home energy system. How many times do you wear something before you wash it? I know our work and/or winter coats got washed only when being put away in storage. Yes they would get filthy looking but who are you washing them for if you care about appearances? So by having fewer clothes and not caring about appearances as much when you are working on your homestead you greatly reduce time and energy maintaining appearances.

Since I was the oldest I don’t remember many hand-me-downs, but I am sure my siblings would feel differently about getting to wear something an older sibling had worn, once they had out grown it. It seems to me that this didn’t happen too often as we tended to wear out clothes.

Of course when we go to the thrift store to buy, we buy what is available which is not always the highest quality but that is part of the treasure hunt of thrift storing. Never have the mentality that I should buy this just because it is cheap but rather think how often will I use it and how long will it last before it wears out. Last week, I got two really nice for going-out shirts; one was a silk shirt from the West Indies and the other was a linen shirt from Barbados. I paid $5 each for these high quality very nice shirts and I expect them, unless I gain a bunch of weight, to last me at least 5 years if not 10 years as I won’t be using them regularly. Thrift stores or second hand stores or consignment shops are great to visit when you are traveling as different areas tend to have different types of items in the stores. Once, in California, I came across a pair of Italian dress/dance shoes for $10 and they were having a half price “sale” for certain things. I didn’t find out about the sale until I was at the counter so that was a pleasant surprise. Those shoes were of such high quality that even though I wore them every weekend when I went out they lasted my more than 10 years when the soles started cracking and than I got them resoled for about $50 as they are so comfortable and nice looking. 

Living Off Grid means learning the necessary skill of sewing, although you can also find someone who is highly skilled in this art to barter, or work exchange with for the more detailed jobs. I learned to sew basic rips or when I popped a button (which is becoming more common as my clothes get older and I get fatter). I use dental floss to sew on buttons and sew the buttons on kind of loose so they don’t rip out and are easier to button. I know my mom did sew some low quality quilts by sewing a couple of blankets together and adding some fringe but I don’t remember us ever really making any clothes even when we got a treadle and later a regular sewing machine. Mostly we just sewed ripped clothes or patches over worn out knees and elbows. My dad had a pair of pants that had so many patches over the worn out parts that it looked like a work of multi colored patchwork art. The pants were very heavy and almost could stand up by themselves. By starting with a high quality pair of pants it made it worth while to continue to repair them. Eventually you have put so much time and energy into repairing them you can’t throw them away but have to continue repairing them as happened with dad’s Multi Colored dream pants. Do you throw clothes away once they get a little rip or lose a button?

I look forward everyday to the interactions I have on myLiving Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page and hope you will join the discussion there.

Stay energized, aur

Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter atThe Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict atOil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host atWDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on theLiving Off Grid, Really!?!?Facebook page, and read all of Aur’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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