The COVID-19 pandemic, in many ways, has shown the vulnerability of 21st century living to external influences that cannot be easily controlled such as a mass viral infection. The “invisible enemy” has closed down airports, seaports, bus terminals, schools, government and corporate offices, and practically entire economies of countries around the world. While the prospects of producing an effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine increase by the day, people need to find ways how to become more resilient and self-sufficient should a similar contagion arises in the future.
For many years now, a fringe group of people has adopted a lifestyle known as off-grid living, a way of life that seeks independence from the use of paid utilities like water and electricity. It also extends to becoming food self-reliant while living in remote areas of the country.
Even a number of Hollywood celebrities have chosen to live a more “green life”. Movie legend Robert Redford has been living in a sustainable home in Utah for many years, not surprising given his environmental protection advocacies. Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston boasts of his net-zero power beachfront property in Ventura, California which sets the bar real high for green living.
Before citing the reasons why Off-Grid Living makes more sense in a post-pandemic scenario, here’s a quick review of the distinct elements or features of this alternative way of life:
The first concern of people who wish to transition to an Off-Grid lifestyle is how to remain convenient while becoming more responsible in their use of energy. The installation and use of efficient solar power panels across the roof of a house is the most popular method. Photo-voltaic arrays or panels are lined up to catch the sun, which is then stored and converted into electricity. This type of technology, obviously, relies on the availability of solar radiation as well as the temperature of the environment where the panels are installed. As a back-up, an off-grid home can also have a wind-generated turbine and a micro-hydro plant that also converts wind and water kinetic energy into usable electricity.
Sustainable Use of Water
After taking care of power supply, an Off-Grid advocate would look at setting up a sustainable water supply. The default is to build or live in a house that is near a natural body of fresh water such as a river or stream. The water from these natural sources can be fetched and filtered using various filtration barriers, electro-chemical solutions, and even ultra-violet rays. In some locations, a homeowner can dig a well or access an aquifer. A less sustainable method is to go out to town and buy enough gallons of water to last for about a week or two, although this would require a vehicle with enough storage space and sufficient fuel to do the rounds.
Another important feature of an off-grid home is a wastewater system that stores grey and blackwater. The wastewater is slowly leached onto a designated field several meters away from the house. Some off-grid homes also incorporate composting of solid waste as an add-on sustainable feature. People who live in such homes make sure to check first with local authorities regarding county or state regulations on waste management to avoid any violations of law or public and environmental safety rules.
Perhaps one of the best characteristics of the Off-Grid Lifestyle is the deliberate effort to become food self-sustaining. By developing a plot of land near the home, one can have a Food Garden that eventually becomes the main source of food such as lettuce, tomatoes, various kinds of herbs, potatoes, and just about any crop that one can plant and learn to grow. At first, trips to the local grocery would still be needed for a number of food items and emergency supplies such as canned goods. The real hard-core Off- Grid folks especially those in mountains and wilderness areas learn to really live off the land, subject only to local game hunting, fishing, and agricultural regulations.
Relevance of Off-grid Living
People who have adopted this alternative lifestyle swear by its ability to promote peace of mind, physical health, and a deep sense of contentment. Having reduced or totally cut-off their dependence on modern utilities, the pressure to remain employed is decreased even as their ability to live with less creature comforts increases.
They may still enjoy watching television, listening to the radio, and even use wifi-enabled laptops since they have renewable energy sources. While they may still keep a lot of cash on hand and in the bank for emergencies such as medical treatment at the hospital, they progressively work to have less need for currency and aspire to live a life without money—although this is reserved only for the most extreme Off-Grid adherents.
Surrounded by clean air and nature, they report less incidence of illness and other diseases. Their cardiovascular health also improves due to all the housework, gardening, and other activities in the yard that are done daily. The remote location of their homes is also a way to become insulated from external influences or threats such as the novel coronavirus which infects thousands of people in city centers.
While this alternative way of life is not for everyone, it is easy to see why some people embrace it. It is a more romantic, sustainable, and visionary way of living that attracts people from all walks of life, even multi-millionaire celebrities who can actually afford to live in city luxury. For those who chose Off-Grid Living, they are confident that they are on track to becoming more contented, safe, and environmentally responsible in how they walk and dwell upon the Earth.