Simple Living: Off the grid
Guest post by Amanda Rootsey.
Today I want to talk to you about getting off the grid. My boyfriend, Dave and I have gotten rid of most of our possessions and now live in a solar-powered caravan on top of a mountain. We are not connected to town electricity, water, sewage or phone lines. We need a 4WD just to get home, we grow our own vegetables, collect our own water, shower under the stars, have camp fires, dig a hole for our poop (I leave that job to Dave) and our closest neighbours are about a kilometre away. And we love it!
I’m not suggesting you do the same, because it’s certainly not for everyone, but with this lifestyle change, I have learnt a thing or two about conserving. Conserving water and conserving power. And there are quite a few things you could be doing in your own home to reduce your consumption and hopefully save a buck on your next electricity bill.
The first thing we did when we moved to this beautiful, secluded place, was to get rid of some appliances. Because we actually live in our caravan, we have a pretty big one and it came with all of the luxuries of home, such as a microwave, washing machine and full size fridge and freezer. These are great when you are plugged in to power in a caravan park but they suck the energy out of our solar panels pretty quickly. So we dumped the microwave and washing machine and we turned off the fridge. We have a much smaller fridge outside that we run on gas instead and we swapped the TV for a super low voltage one so that we can watch re-runs of Glee all day long and not run out of power.
The blender, iron and hair dryer had to go because they use up a huge amount of power. The juicer, however, could stay because it is one of those fancy ones that slowly crushes the fruit and vegetables.
In the kitchen, I’ve found that it’s not a bad thing if you have to chop your vegetables by hand or mash something up in a mortar and pestle rather than putting it in to a food processor. Or to heat something on the stove rather than using a microwave, which we all know is bad for our health anyway. It actually feels good to be doing things from scratch and the way women have always done things prior.We replaced the washing machine with a small manual one that is designed for camping. Now I actually love doing the washing. It would be great for someone who is just moving out for the first time and can’t afford a washing machine (it’s about $30) or even for a mum with a baby who has to put on lots of small loads of nappies. It takes about five minutes to do a load, including rinsing.
We have lots of solar lights around the place, including a sensor one outside. We even have a solar charger for our phones.
Of course making some of these changes might seem a little extreme to most people. But there are plenty of things you can be doing too. In your own home, take note of how many appliances, lights, gadgets and other electrical devices you have plugged in and turned on. You will probably be surprised. By making a conscious effort to unplug them when you are not using them and even getting rid of some things, such as your microwave, you will definitely save some money. You could also have a candle lit dinner once in a while and switch to solar lights in your garden.
Next time you are shopping, rather than being captivated by all of the advertisements, try to take a moment to think about what you really need. Downgrading and simplifying is not a bad thing, it’s actually very liberating. When you start to realize that these things don’t make you happy or define you, you make way for other experiences that nurture your spirit rather than bankrupt you. A fantastic thing to do that I’ve been trying to do lately, is take a day each week or each month to be completely ‘off the grid’. Turn everything off, including your computer and your phone and just hang at home all day or go for a walk or to the beach – something that will get you back in touch with nature. We have become so dependent on our little devices that it can seem quite challenging to spend a day without them. Which is all the more reason to do it!
Author bio: Amanda Rootsey is Australia’s first Eco-Model and co-founder of Vegan Era. After going through cancer, her perspective on life changed a lot and she now lives in a solar-powered caravan on top of a mountain with her boyfriend and little staffy girl, Trudi. She blogs about living simply, natural health, eco-fashion and vegan food at A Modern Girl’s Life.
Positive affirmation for the day: I make a conscious effort to live simply where possible.
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