From growing your own food to harnessing alternative energy, many Americans are taking their most crucial necessities into their own hands. Living "off the grid," also called "homesteading" is gaining momentum around the country. It's not just because people are fed up with corporate run systems, either. Food tastes better when it's grown in your garden; reducing utility needs can save you bundles and is better for the environment. But how much can you really unplug from the system?
Grow Your Own
What's most easily done for virtually anybody is growing at least a portion of your food. We can all grow something, even if it's just herbs on a windowsill. It can lead the way to a much deeper connection with our food and our community. A trend among smaller farming operations is good old-fashioned trading: I grow kale and you grow berries? Perfect. Let's swap. Urban farms popping up en masse in cities like Brooklyn have given rise to chicken coops, rabbit hutches and even beehives that produce edible and tradable commodities. Growing food also makes managing food and yard waste easier. Setting up compost can be a simple and beneficial tool in reducing the amount of trash being hauled away each week, which saves money and decreases dependence on the system.
Audit Your Energy
Many Americans have begun harnessing alternative energy such as wind and solar on their property, decreasing their dependence on the literal energy grid, saving money and reducing the impact on the environment. Making this even easier is a home with fewer energy needs such as using eco-friendly appliances, better insulation, unplugging items not in use, or, a tinier house to begin with. The tiny house movement is a growing trend among homesteaders and DIY-ers who are spending more time outdoors and in their communities than inside watching television.
Collect Your Own Water
Collecting rain water or installing a grey water system are both excellent ways to reuse water without pulling from the local water supply (if you have well or a drinking water source on your property, even better). But for most of us, water will be the one necessity keeping us dependent on our municipality.
Going off the grid does not mean you're regressing to a primitive lifestyle. Nor does it mean being unpatriotic. In fact, the opposite is more likely true: being self-reliant conserves our nation's resources and makes us more capable of contributing to our communities, rather than constantly taking from them. For most people, it's a process that can take decades to implement. And it's a trend we're likely to see a lot more of in the future as resources become scarcer—all the more reason to dive into low-impact self-reliant living now.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: ">Rick Camacho