You Don’t Need to Live Off-Grid To Live Sustainably

You Don't Need to Live Off-Grid To Live Sustainably - The Urban Ecolife

For a long time I held a belief in my heart that I couldn’t live sustainably unless I was living in a remote off-grid cabin in the woods, growing all my own food, eating by candlelight, wearing my own hand woven loin clothes and basically shitting in a bucket.

No power. No internet. No coffee. No connection.

I repeat. No connection.


There’s danger in romanticising off-grid living in this way. This is actually as far from the intention and reality of off-grid living for most people who are actually living this way. And yet I hear it time and time again.


“Wouldn’t it be nice to live all alone, out in the woods, without anyone, anything distracting you…”

Blah blah blah.


Yeah, maybe for a weekend. And my guess is that few would last longer before they drive themselves insane, cave into the need to check in online and crash tackle the first person they see cradling a steaming hot latte.


Except we joke, entertain and romanticise this idea when it’s actually a reality for a significant portion of the impoverished population of this planet. But for them, it’s not a choice.


By removing yourself from the picture, you aren’t actually doing anything to help. We actually detach ourselves from the reality of the problem we are plonked in the middle of. Sure, you may be relieving the pressure of one less crammed body in an annex of cement but where you move out, another will simply move in.


You are disconnected from the rest of the world alright. Disconnected from the shared responsibility we all have to each other to make things better. There is no you or I in this story. Only us.


This is not to discredit anyone who is living this way. Chances are, they probably aren’t reading my blog anyway. If you are, then all the more power to you (pun intended). I encourage people to use alternative, renewable forms of energy and develop self-sufficiency in your lives. But I’m not really talking about that, am I now? 


When we talk connection, we aren’t just talking about plugging into the electrical grid. We are talking about human connection. Nature’s connection. Connection to the problems and connection to the solutions. Connection to progressive innovations. Connection to the collaborative effort in raising our collective human awareness and consciousness around these issues.


A life without connection is without meaning. It’s in human nature to seek connection in all that we do. This is how we extrapolate meaning in our lives. Disconnecting is not the answer. Bridging the gaps between our cultural misunderstandings, social inequalities, and lapses in education, while increasing environmental stewardship and local ecosystems (both in nature and people), establishes connection and is certainly a step in a better direction.


We are a planet of over 7 billion people. Urbanisation is increasing. Maybe in some parallel world it’s feasible for us to all live in quaint little log cabins in the woods but today, in the position we are in, it really isn’t. There’d probably be no forests and woods left anyway.

Live off-grid in the woods

Photo Credit: Steven Kamenar

The pressure on our farmers to feed the hoards is increasing. The pressure to dress, educate, house and provide medical services to this growing population is increasing. This isn’t to say that an increasing population is the sole problem we are faced with, but it is one of the many challenges we face in making decisions about climate change action.


By taking responsibility for even just a few key areas in your life, you’re doing something to relieve this pressure. Self-sufficiency and sustainability doesn’t need to look like the picture of the off-grid cabin. In fact, it’s totally ok to rely on other people in your local community. This helps to build connections. This is the ecosystem of your life. We can’t all expect to know how to build houses, grow food, repair cars, fix computers or leaky pipes. This is what community is for.


You don’t need to live in a remote cabin in the woods to live more sustainably. You don’t even need to live on a farm. You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do.


Many people get trapped in this way of thinking. That there’s a right way and a wrong way. But when you tell yourself that there’s only one way to do something right, then you limit your ability to actually make positive, self-realised changes. And what happens when you don’t follow this set plan? Are you going to be issued with a red card and sent to the sin bin and shame on you for failing to live up to these false standards?

Don’t be one of those people who get up on the invisible high horse and declare a certain way of living as being more ethical and more sustainable. There’s no such thing as the sustainability police.


No. Just no.


It’s all a choice. And they are choices you can make from an informed, educated and heart-centred space. 


The sustainability movement is one that needs to be self-realised, not externally imposed. You get to decide what your values are. You get to decide what code of ethics you live up to. You get to decide the level of standards you are playing at.

Your decisions are on your conscience and no one else’s.

Heart coffee

Photo Credit: Hello Goodbye

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Posted on by Emily Uebergang Posted in EcoLiving

About Emily Uebergang

Urban hippie by day, wandering gypsy by night. Emily is all about sustainable living and writes like she's out to try and save the world or something. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+