5 Most Sustainable Off-grid Communities
Posted 7 months ago
Ever given off-grid living a thought?
Whilst sustainable or eco-friendly living isn’t a challenge embraced by all, as an increasingly ‘plugged in’ world, is it any wonder that dreams of self-sufficiency and a ‘grow your own’ mentality is becoming an ever more popular choice?
In 2018, 62 million households worldwide used off grid solar technologies, with 51 million using portable solar lanterns and small home systems. By 2050, it’s predicted that as much as 70% of the world’s population will live within urbanised areas – with the off-grid statistics a welcome step towards lessoning our impact on the planet.
But does off grid living really have to mean sacrificing quality of life? We’ve reviewed five off-grid communities taking sustainable living to the next level and working to kick their carbon footprint:
- Finca Bellavista Treehouse Community, Costa Rica
Surrounded by Costa Rican jungle, these self-proclaimed adrenaline junkies live full and connected lifestyles within their network of rustic, hand-built tree houses. Situated in the mountainous South Pacific costal region of Costa Rica, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, their carbon-neutral community is connected through aerial walkways and also includes a central community centre and social areas. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, the community have developed a network of ziplines and hiking trails encompassing over 600 acres of rainforest, making this ‘life less ordinary’ a real tropical paradise for any potential off grid.
The tree houses function exactly like normal homes, in the sense of a working kitchen, running water and indoor plumbing which is made possible by collected spring water and gravity fed water systems, all filtered so plastic water bottles are not necessary; thanks to a cell tower close by, the community are also able to access cell reception and internet – who said this lifestyle was a sacrifice?
The community even offer activities and overnight stays to travellers who wish to experience tree top living within their unique neighbourhood, “The pulse of unfiltered life present defines sensory overload, and provides a daily existence immersed and in tune with nature.” The Finca Bellavista way of life is a perfect example to us all that co-existing with nature in a sustainable lifestyle can add significant difference to the environment as well as individual quality of life. Find out more here.
- Freedom Cove, Canada
Located on Vancouver Island, Freedom Cove is something unlike many sustainable off-grid communities. Built in 1991 by couple, Catherine and Wayne, the space was developed due to the pair’s need for a sustainable lifestyle to help support their choices to live as artists. With no road access and transport by boat only, the space can be found floating on a lake, tethered to shore with ropes rather than anchored. The community has 12 different platforms and buildings, including a lighthouse, four greenhouses, a dance platform, smokehouse and a candle-making workshop, allowing the buoyant and dynamic space to be fully self-sufficient; growing all their own food within their half acre garden and using the bay for catching fish – sometimes fishing through a glass door built into the floor for ‘dinner in a dash!’
In terms of water sources, residents are able to collect water from a nearby waterfall during the summer and rainwater during the winter.
Initially, Freedom Cove installed 14 solar panels to supply power but after years of wear and tear, they broke down and the pair opted not to replace them, instead simply using an old generator for power. The secluded and floating paradise might not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone, but the curiously colourful space is certainly a fortress of sustainability and with thousands of visitors each year, will certainly help unleash your imagination to what is possible.
- Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Missouri
While some eco-communities prefer to exclude themselves from conventional life, Dancing Rabbit would rather function alongside it. “Although Dancing Rabbit strives for some level of self-sufficiency and economic independence, we do not sequester ourselves from mainstream America. Rather, outreach and education are integral to our goals”. They work towards building a healthy social structure living ‘ecologically sound’ in a community that serves positive human action within the natural world.
Designed entirely around the principles of sustainability, the ecovillage is powered by renewable energy sources and by consuming local, organic and in-season home grown foods, the community work to create a culture that makes ecological living the norm rather than the exception. With over 280 acres of land and close to 70 residents, both adults and children, the community find a powerful authenticity from living off the land and are working towards living off of just 10% of resources used and relied on by the average American citizen.
With naturally built green homes, powered by sun and wind, the residents also have their own vehicles which run on renewable electricity or biodiesel. The communities long-term vision is to grow to their community to the size of a small town, with businesses, residencies and agricultural areas, all the while, maintaining biodiversity within the wildlife habitat that currently exists – the residents have planted over 10,000 trees to restore the land and ensure sustainable wood for the community!
- Tinkers Bubble, England, United Kingdom
Spanning over 28 acres of English woodland, the small off-grid community live a highly sustainable way of life, using environmentally sound methods of working the land without the use of fossil fuels. Their granted permission for self-built houses works on the condition that they make their living from the land, and they certainly do that!
The communities ‘closer to nature’ lifestyle certainly makes for a life worthwhile, with over 300 returning volunteers annually who leave with a newfound satisfaction they didn’t realise they were missing from their ‘normal’ lives. The continually growing network are passionate about making a positive change to society with the view that no matter how small the change, living closer to nature will make your life better and more worthwhile.
All monetary income is generated through on site farming, forestry and gardening, with all pastures, orchards and gardens organically certified and no-dig methods commonly used, and the community also have solar powered electricity on site and spring water on tap! “We’re money poor but otherwise rich!”.
- ReGen Village, Netherlands
Utopian, architecturally beautiful and self-sustaining neighbourhoods that are enabled to grow their own food, produce their own energy and address issues surrounding climate change.. sound good? It looks even better. Successful serial technology entrepreneur and founder of ReGen Villages, James Ehrlich’s desirable off-grid neighbourhoods will be comprised of ‘power positive homes, renewable energy, water management, and waste-to-resource systems that are based upon on-going resiliency research – for thriving families and reduced burdens on local and national governments.’
It is estimated that by 2050 earth will have a population of 10 billion (and growing) which will warrant an urgent need for regenerative housing and that’s where ReGen Villages step in as the ‘game changer’ for urban agriculture and self-sustainable living, with a view of causing as little destruction as possible to residents’ current lifestyles.
The group have been gearing up for their first pilot community based in the Netherlands, with agreements for further projects across Sweden, Denmark, Norway, USA, Asia and Northern Europe in UK to follow, with consideration for global exploration; with infrastructure permits approved in 2018, ReGen hope to have their first communities up and running by 2020. Nicknamed the ‘Tesla of Ecovillages’, the communities will uphold five core principles to stand by:
-Energy positive homes
-Door-step high-yield organic food production
-Mixed renewable energy and storage
-Water and waste recycling
-Empowerment of local communities
The fascinating and environmental real estate development will allow for bicycles and pedestrian paths but no cars will be allowed in a bid to reduce emissions; surrounding landscapes will be filled with greenhouses and fruit and veg patches where rainwater will also be collected and filtered through to the neighbouring homes for drinking water. Prices for the site are said to range considerably throughout the different spaces available; with significant interest in the project thus far, it looks like the utopian dream may be closer to reality than we realise! Find out more here.
Interested in off-grid living? First things first, you’ll need to create an off-grid water system. The LifeSaver C2 is designed for large scale community water provision, ideal for off-grid communities, schools, hospitals, refugee camps and other community spaces. The LifeSaver C2 is a community led large scale water purification solution that delivers 2 million litres of clean water — providing clean, safe water for 300 people for 6 years if used daily. Suitable for environments where traditional infrastructure is lacking or insufficient, the LifeSaver C2 water purification system is an integral water provision supply shared by all members of a community.
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