Off-Grid

Taking Your Toilet Off the Grid

Hi there 🙂

This past week I’ve been talking about off-grid amenities, starting with stoves, and most recently about refrigeration methods. Now, I’m starting to think about the bathroom. Toilets, showers, and sinks.

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Toilets seem pretty daunting to me.  Everybody is so funny and picky about the way they do their business. Most of our grandparents or at least great grandparents used an outhouse sometime in their life, but these days the mention of an outhouse elicits thoughts of hillbillies and dirt poor days gone by.

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People just don’t want to do what’s natural in a place where they can see that other people have too. I get it. If I were to ask my parents to come visit and tell them my only toilet was a compost toilet, I’m sure they would imagine visions of a port-a-potty and head for the hills.

But, believe it or not, it is possible to have “green” toilet in your home, sans plumbing, and it still be comfortable and sanitary. Just like every other “off grid” amenity, your level of modernity depends on the amount you are willing to spend. Personally, I’m not going to go off grid if it costs me more to build my self-sustaining homestead than it would a regular house.

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A doable option for many homesteaders is a commercial compost toilet. These come in many different variations, but the principle remains the same.  You do the doo and cover it with a material such as sawdust to prevent odor and aid the decomposition process. Then, you periodically empty the tank. After your compost pile has decomposed a year or two, you have a wonderful fertilizer.

My biggest fear would be the smell.  A number of homesteaders swear by their compost toilets and vow that they have little to no odor. I’m seeing rave reviews about a book called The Humanure Handbook. This book is promised to be life-changing, and give you all the information you would need to set up your own compost toilet. The benefits go far beyond the one that initially caught my eye: the next-to-nothing price tag. I intend to purchase the book soon (and it is available digitally)!

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I’m also very interested in outhouses. They don’t have to be as primitive as you think. You are limited only by your creativity as to how snazzy you make it. And, if you don’t like seeing the whole household’s business, what about adding a little flap?

I’m imagining combining these ideas into one, using the compost toilet concept but placing it inside an outhouse-style toilet structure (like a little bench) and adding a flap to the hole so that no one has to see the “humanure”. Straw or sawdust, etc. Can be put on top of the flap to keep it relatively clean and assist the decomposition.

Besides what it can do for the soil, why use gallons of water every time we flush? A compost toilet or outhouse is a major step toward going off the grid!

What do you think? Is this appalling or appealing to you? I can’t wait to tell you about some great shower options I’ve found for off-grid use.

Check out this cool combination outhouse-style bathroom I found with my Houzz app!

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Off-Grid

Can I Go Off-Grid?

As promised in my first post (and suggested by this blog’s name), I want to start talking about homesteading. Going off-grid. What is this exactly? Why would I give up the life I am accustomed to? Who does this?

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If you Google either one of the terms, homesteading or going off-grid, a lot of results come up.  Most of these results I found discouraging, simply because of the exorbitant amounts of money that these sites suggest is necessary to “go off grid.

Why should it cost us so much money to downgrade our modern lifestyles? If this whole blog is about doing things for yourself, why would I write telling you to pay someone $15,000 to install some solar panels on your house? I won’t. Not here, because I’m just not buying in to that.

My grandpa used to tell me about growing up with no electricity. He was born in 1917, in Tennessee, out in the country. While I know he later loved watching his football games on television ten feet from his recliner, I doubt he grew up feeling he was suffering terribly, simply due to the fact that he wasn’t watching TV.

Now I’m not saying that deciding to live off-grid means you have to forgo electricity. Not at all. The point I’m trying to make is that our ancestors thrived on a lot less convenience than we do. And with a lot less money.

So, that being said, some of you want to know what in the world I’m even talking about anyway. I’ll give you a little background into my thought process, and then we can discuss what off-grid really means.

I have always been a little discontent.  The way of the world, this work-all-day just to keep the utilities and cable on, is not doing it for me.

Why do we need all this stuff anyway? Because society says we do. We go to work, come home, spend time with our families (or not), and live another day to pay another bill. Because it’s normal. It’s what you’re supposed to do.

Not me. I don’t need normal. I don’t need to have so many bills to be happy, and the power company is for the birds. Just plain crooks if you ask me. $400 a month just for power is plain old-fashioned robbery.

Well then, what does going off the grid really mean? For starters, not depending on utility companies for your day to day lifestyle. Not paying a monthly bill for water, electricity, gas, or telephone. For me, the thought of that kind of life is accompanied by the idea of growing my own food and becoming self-sufficient. This is homesteading.

So why would you do it? If the thought of breathing fresh air away from the city every day makes you cringe, it’s not for you. If you can’t imagine growing vegetables, feeding chickens, or drinking filtered rainwater, then no, of course you wouldn’t. But if these ideas appeal to you, I want to prove that it can be done, and done without spending rich man money.

Who does it? A lot of people. More and more Americans are dropping off the power grid every year. Some are major corporations that spend millions for “clean energy” and some are just average Joes. I say, the amount of money you spend on going off-grid depends on your creativity, just how much you are willing to do by yourself, and how modern you want your life to be.

Our goal is to achieve an off-grid, homestead lifestyle in the next several years. This blog will help keep us on track and make plans. Feasible plans.
We can get off the grid. Anyone can.

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