Couple build dream home using recycled materials for only £27,000




Last week, a couple who dreamt of building their own eco family home and living off the land with their children appeared on the British TV show, Grand Designs. With only £500 in the bank, they started the project and didn’t give up.

Simon and Jasemine Dale later managed to save £27,000 after taking a few years out and working. Jasemine ran horticultural courses and sold produce whilst Simon did occasional consultancy work on low impact buildings. They did end up building the three-bedroom home for themselves and their children Elfie and Cosmo, in the sustainable Lammas community Pembrokeshire, UK. In order to move into the community, they first had to prove they could fulfill a strict planning condition and that they could be self-sufficient on their seven-acre plot – or be forced to move out.


They proved that they could though as well as proving that you can build your dream home with recycled materials for a fraction of the cost. Presenter of the Show, Kevin McCloud described it as “the cheapest house ever built in the Western Hemisphere”.


The floors were made of rammed earth, which was polished and hardened with linseed oil and structure of the home was made from timber polls, all grown, felled, prepared and sawn by Simon. But don’t feel sorry for him, he loved every minute of it. He told the show that:


“It’s been hard and I wasn’t asking for an easy life. I like a challenge. To put in a hard day’s graft and be tired at the end of the day. That exhaustion is a nice feeling.”


At the front of the house, they decided to install a greenhouse to preheat air for the house and grown food.

The couple used sheep wool and grass as insulation in the walls and the roof, reclaimed glass for the windows and kitchen fixtures and appliances from car boot sales and eBay.



The Dale’s have proved that a green lifestyle and living off the land can be cheap and still comfortable with their beautiful eco home.


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Morelo reveals their luxurious Empire Liner range of motorhomes



German  luxury RV manufacturer Morelo has released pictures of its newest model, the Empire Super-Liner, unveiled at the Motorhome & Caravan show in Birmingham, UK, last week. At £360,000, the motorhome is almost double the price of the average home in Britain. But you get what you pay for – a palace on wheels.




So, if you’re not one for living on damp, muddy ground in a tent  – if even glamping is too down-market for you, and you prefer to max out on comfort in your life, then you can’t get much better than this. The motorhome features under-floor heating, a rain shower, a fully equipped luxury kitchen, a double bedroom with a skylight so you can fall asleep whilst you watch stars. There’s even an optional garage for when you’re storing a car on your travels.







The smallest model in the Empire Liner range, the 90 L, starts at 8.99m, while the largest 110 GSO model is 11.29m in length and it’s powered by a 7.7-litre engine, which develops 300bhp, twice as much torque as a Lamborghini Aventador.






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Park City commits to 100% renewable


Park City, Utah is the latest American city to pledge to turn to 100% renewable energy (you can view the whole list here). The promise was made under the 100% Committed Campaign and Park City has set 2032 as its deadline. Boulder, Colorado, San Francisco and San Diego, California, Georgetown, Texas Grand Rapids, Michigan and others have already committed to the cause.

This is great news, but why has it taken them so long? The campaign seems to have emerged as an attempt to push local councils toward sustainable energy, as climate change becomes a leading issue in national politics.

Last month, in September, when Boulder announced its commitment, Mayor Suzanne Jones, took to the mic to state that: “[It] is increasingly clear that Congress is not going to address climate change; cities like Boulder need to take the lead.”

Mayor Jack Thomas pushed a similar messaged in Utah and urged other cities to follow suit: “Park City’s commitment for 100% renewable electricity is driven by our community” he said. “The passion for the natural environment and our responsibility to take care of it is part of the fabric of what makes Park City a very special place to live. Park City can’t do it alone.”

Mountain communities have proudly pledged to change their energy source as they understand the risk they face if global warming is allowed to continue at the rate that it is at. “Park City recognizes that without snow, they cannot grow,” Talya Tavor, I AM PRO SNOW program manager, said. “At Climate Reality we bring together the passion to fight climate change with the passion to protect our mountain communities to make an unstoppable force for change. That’s why it is no surprise that mountain cities are leading the way on renewable electricity.

But that’s not all, national businesses like Ski Butlers, Ikea, Adobe, Facebook Apple and more (full list) have made the commitment to switch to 100 percent renewable electricity, under the RE100 plan to get the world’s most influential companies committed to 100% renewable power.

This  shows that business and government leaders recognize the urgent need to address the very real issue of climate change, and it also shows that practical solutions are actually being put in place to do so.

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Canada project launched by ATCO



A new off-grid system is capable of generating 75 kilowatts and storing 250 kilowatts hours of energy. Now that’s impressive!

Last week, ATCO announced their groundbreaking solar project in Western Canada. The Grande Prairie POD Transmission at the Saddle Hills Telecommunications Site is needed to meet increased power demand in the area.

“Through this project, we have gained valuable insight into the application of off-grid solar solutions, directly transferable and scalable for our customers in other sectors,” said Paul Goguen, Senior Vice President & General Manager, ATCO Electric Transmission Division.

“This is just one example of how ATCO is finding opportunities to economically reduce our carbon footprint while exploring innovative clean energy solutions for our customers.”

This is great news, but why didn’t it happen any sooner if ATCO is seriously trying to cut down on their carbon footprint?

Propane thermal electric generators previously powered the site where the system is being built. As the generators neared the end of their life cycles and the need for power at the location grew, ATCO had a vision for a cleaner and less expensive way to keep the site up and running – solar energy.capstone project,

They didn’t make the transition alone though, to make sure that the switch was technically viable and cost-effective, they joined forces with the Alternative Energy Capstone Project and outlined the technical challenges of building and maintaining solar panels in a remote location (e.g. cooler climate, fewer hours of daylight etc.)

The project is one of many that ATCO is undertaking; a full list can be viewed here. The timeline for the scheme so far is as follows:

  • November 2015: Notification to landholders, agencies, and other interested parties
  • April 2016: Submit facilities application to the AUC
  • July 2017: If AUC approves the facilities application – construction begins


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Why the phrase “off the grid” has Hollywood gripped



The theme of off-grid living is sweeping through Hollywood as it takes a center stage role in upcoming blockbusters.

The newest Bourne movie hits the big screen this week, and lead character Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) immerses himself into off-grid living as he tried to shake loose those who are tracking him. He makes a career for himself on the bare-knuckle fight circuit somewhere in southern and central Europe as old associates reappear throughout the movie. This film is not out yet but it is pretty safe to say that when they refer to Bourne as being off-grid they don’t mean he’s living on a farm using hydropower to decode top CIA Intel. But rather ‘off the radar’; one can guess burner phones and such will be used. His romantic interest Nicky Parsons is back and has downloaded confidential files about Bourne’s former life as David Webb. The film is said to keep you on the edge of your seat once is gets going and definitely is on our list to watch.


Another sequel is soon on it’s way out, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is another part two thriller. Tom Cruise who plays Reacher stumbles upon a grand conspiracy and goes, guess where?  Off the grid, according to the press releases. Surfing from motel to motel and covering his back, he tries his hardest not to  be tracked as he unwraps this mystery.


Films such as Captain Fantastic, Life of Pi, 127 Hours, Wild have all used the OG word in their PR packs. But what exactly is it about the theme of going ‘off-grid’ that really goes down a treat with audiences? Granted, there’s not much of actual off-grid living in the terms of living a sustained life, living off the food that you grow, using solar power instead of the grid. No, it’s more the mysterious and independent side of living off-grid that really gets the movie audiences going. In times like this, globalization and the rise of technology has interlinked people from across the world. Perhaps it’s the idea that once you go off-grid, you’re technically unknown. These days most people have a phone and on that phone, there is some sort of geo-location software or a software that allows you to be tracked. So maybe it’s the idea of not being tracked that is endearing to people, which is why Hollywood has integrated off-grid living into so many of its film narratives.

Both films are being released this week so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in watching them in full.


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Micro-nuclear power plants gaining acceptance

In the near future, off-grid communities of up to 20,000 population might be powered by a nuclear reactor the size of a container that is swapped out every 20 years.

Existing plants emit no emissions but overall are just too risky for some. There’s also competition now with low natural gas prices and wind and solar projects, which has allowed the small reactors to emerge. The Tennessee Valley Authority has become the first utility to apply for a permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build a small reactor.

Others are following suit, there is a plan by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to build one about 100 miles southwest of Yellowstone National Park; it is said to produce electricity like no other.

Small nuclear reactors may be a safer and a cheaper alternative to nuclear power plants. They can be manufactured in a factory and hooked-up on-site, potentially avoiding the huge upfront capital costs and the overruns that have plagued many nuclear plants. They are theoretically safer, reducing the need for huge containment vessels and other expensive protections.

Unlike other nuclear reactors that usually produce about 1,000 megawatts of carbon-free electricity, the small modular reactors, are designed to be a fraction of the size at 50 to 300 megawatts. Rather than using electrically operated pumps and motors to circulate coolant and keep the core of the nuclear reactor at a low temperature, as happens in traditional plants, small reactors use no pumps and motors and instead rely on passive means such as gravity and conduction ­­to cool the reactors. The size also means that it is cheaper to produce, as opposed to the $10bn and up to a decade in planning to secure permits and build of conventional nuclear.

The group wants to replace their old coal-fired plants and it won the approval from the US Department of Energy earlier this year to analyze the environmental and safety impacts of the small nuclear reactor. If it passes the test, the consortium plans to build a power plant there with 12 reactors totaling 600 megawatts in capacity.


The Utah consortium will hire Washington state-based Energy Northwest to operate and maintain its 12 reactors in Idaho if they are built. The Utah group expects the project to come online by 2024.

Gene Grecheck, a former president and the current co-chair of a policy advisory committee at the American Nuclear Society, which represents engineers and scientists. Grecheck says that scientists are studying other ways to improve nuclear technology. “There is also a lot of research going on for advanced reactor concepts to take used fuel and reprocess it to reduce [the spent fuel] even more dramatically,” he said.


Startup companies are working on using spent uranium fuel include the Bill Gates-backed TerraPoweras well as Transatomic and Terrestrial Energy. Another start-up, Oklo, seeks to create 2-megawatt reactors that …

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How safe is your drinking water?




Reports of polluted drinking water contaminating whole communities have flooded in recently.  As if we didn’t need another reason to unplug, various studies have uncovered the truth about our ‘drinking water’. It is diseased and ‘deadly toxic’.


In the US, more than six million people drink contaminated water, plagued with PFASs, which have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, high cholesterol and obesity. This is according to a Harvard University study published in August which used data from more than 36,000 water samples collected from all over the nation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2013-2015. You can view their advice here.


Lead author of the study, Xindi Hu, says that: “For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities, such as PFASs, were allowed to be used and released into the environment.” The toxins have been used over the last 60 years in many things from food wrappers to clothing, to cooking utensils. “We now have to face the severe consequences” Hu added.


The worst affected states are as follows: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.

Drinking water was tested in 33 states, the study set the limit as 70 parts of PFASs per trillion (ng/L). Concentrations ranged as high as 1,800 ng/L for PFOS (Newark, Delaware).


A separate national report released Tuesday (Sept. 20) found unsafe levels of chromium-6 or hexavalent chromium — known to cause cancer in animals and humans — in tap water across the country.


But the States are not alone, one of the world’s leading human rights group has focused on the consequences of contaminated water in indigenous communities throughout Ontario, Canada.

In a study that lasted almost a year, Human Rights Watch collected samples of water in Batchewana, Grassy Narrows, Shoal Lake 40, Neskantaga and Six Nations of Grand River. Whilst conducting their research, they found children suffering from skin disorders, mothers who spent hours a day disinfecting their babies’ bottles, due to the presence of E.coli and other toxins in the water. You can view the gallery they complied whilst carrying out the research here.


The ‘make it safe’ campaign has been set up as Canada’s obligation to end the water crisis. Ontario Regional Chief, Isadore Day called the lack of clean water in 2016 “discriminatory and unacceptable”.


The HRW wants to know why Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), failed to spend funds over five recent fiscal years and sent more than $1 billion in funds back to the Treasury Board as “surplus” when it could have been used to clean up the water, the report said.


The group has praised the new government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau despite this, for promising $4.6bn earmarked for infrastructure funds in indigenous communities over the next five years.


That’s …

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Crucial court hearing for Steward Wood


You may remember the Steward Community Woodland Group from our previous article ‘Dartmoor community eviction‘. There’s a little summary downpage.

Since then, the Woodlanders have graciously thanked all for their support, but their current situation calls for even more support from the public. The self-sufficient group has decided to challenge their loss at court. Their latest Facebook post reads: “The most important thing happening at the moment is our High Court challenge of the Planning Inspector’s decision. Before our case can go ahead to a full hearing, a judge will decide whether we have a sufficient case to proceed”.

The judge has allowed them to do this orally which apparently indicates that they have a good chance of winning. If they win, they have to pay £10,000 and if they lose, it’ll be £15,000. They have asked anyone who is happy to help fund the legal fees to contact them via their website or Facebook page or call them on 01647 440233.

More updates as they come.



  • The group is made up of 23 men, women, and children, who live off-grid in Dartmoor National Park in Devon
  • They have lived peacefully side by side with nature for 15 years in the park on temporary planning permission
  • The park authorities are now ordering them out on the grounds that they are having a “harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Devon park”
  • The same authorities are allowing property developers to make millions building hundreds of homes.  See our new video here
  • Their appeal was rejected on the 10th August 2016


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Off-Grid Ales, coming to a store near you



Off-Grid Ale’s owners Randy and Denise Rowe have lived in a solar-powered home on Harvey Lake in New Brunswick, Canada for seven years.  Now they’re opening an off-grid brewery on their isolated, idyllic land.


Although their home is powered by renewable energy, Randy confessed that the workplace “wasn’t necessarily to be off-grid.” But with the nearest power lines kilometers away and a real pull to the area, it worked out like that. “We didn’t have a grid here, but we really liked the location.”The brewery will depend on solar and wind power to operate.


To ensure consistency in their brews, Off-Grid Ales relies on a propane system for heating. “You can’t produce a lot of electricity without spending a lot of money so basically, we have to do everything very energy-efficiently,” said Randy.


The couple plans on having four different beers including a red, a double IPA and should be out on store shelves in Canada this fall.

The couple had always dreamed of building a brewery branch on their little slice of heaven; “We love it out here” said Denise Rowe. “It is quiet. It is peaceful. I go for runs on our five-kilometre driveway. “

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World’s largest rural power programme




Argentina’s power grid currently reaches over 99% of its urban population but only 78% of rural residents in a nation of 41 million. A programme called Permer, said to be the world’s largest rural electrification programme to feature rooftop solar arrays, has been launched to alter the balance.

The programme will supply power to residential, commercial and public buildings, $58m will be invested to ensure its success. 70% of the investment will come from a World Bank loan to the Argentine government; the rest is from federal funds.

The money will pay for the installation by mid-2017 of 7,500 off-grid rooftop PV arrays in rural areas of eight provinces in the South American nation. The tender also includes solar heating arrays, micro-wing generation and local mini-grids. grids. The capacity of solar and wind installations sought ranges from 100-200W each, auction winners will be paid to supply equipment and carry out the installation.

Permer was originally implemented in 1999 and the second stage comes as Argentina concludes tenders for over 1GW of utility-scale solar and wind projects as part of the government’s attempt to reach a target to 20% of non-hydro renewable power supply by 2025. The government’s deadline for the project was the 17 October but it has been pushed back to the 31st. More updates as they come.

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Four Gay years travelling to every US national park


Whatever thoughts you had about turning 30, I bet they didn’t make you leave your job, pack your bags and spend 4 years living in your van. Well, it did if you were Mikah.

In 2005, his dad passed away after a battle with cancer, and Mikah, aged 19 took a road trip- supposedly a fun, post-freshman year getaway. It quickly turned into an unforgettable experience of self-reflection and independence. Now he has visited very national park in one trip as a tribute to his Dad and to the USA’s amazing LGBT peoples.

On the 11th anniversary of his fathers’ death Mikah, originally from Nebraska, made the choice to dedicate his dad’s love of driving and travel to each and every national park in the United States. This double world record trip will not only make him the youngest person to experience every unit, but the sole person to do so on one continuous trip.

Mikah has dedicated the trip not only to the memory of his father but also for youth diversity and says he wants to use his trip to “connect with youngsters, along with an LGBT community stereotyped outside the parks, and show how the national parks can be part of their lives.”

“Whether it was Yellowstone, Arches, or The Statue of Liberty I wanted to see all the U.S. national parks.” He said.

You can keep up with his journey by following his interactive map or following his Facebook page for updates.

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British supermarket takes one block off the grid



British supermarket, Sainsbury has taken it’s first store off-the-grid.

What took them so long?

The Cannock branch, West Midlands has unplugged from the National Grid, says the group chief office. Now it runs on power from anaerobic digestion (that’s wasted food to you and me).

Although only 10% of Sainsbury’s surplus or waste food goes to charitable causes, it is put to other uses. Some excess food that otherwise would be chucked away, is now delivered to a Biffa plant from Sainbury’s stores around the UK. Then it is turned into bio-methane gas which is then used to generate electricity that is directly supplied to the supermarket via a newly constructed 1.5km-long electricity cable.
Paul Crewe, head of sustainability at Sainsbury, said: “We send absolutely no waste to landfill and are always looking for new ways to reuse and recycle.”  He claimed to be the first business ever to make use of this linkup technology.

But that’s not all, Sainsbury’s already has a name for itself in the UK for being eco-conscious. It’s the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion, generating enough electricity to power 2,500 homes each year. Under its sustainability code, its wasted energy is down 9.4% year-on-year. It was the first grocery retailer to achieve zero operational waste to landfill in 2013, You can view Sainsbury’s code of ethics here if you’re interested in their stance on other issues.

While Sainsbury’s donate surplus food to good causes, including local food banks, but when items can’t be collected they’ll instead be used for other projects such as animal feed, or to generate energy by anaerobic digestion. Leftover bananas from its Prescot Road store in Liverpool go to Knowsley safari park to feed the monkeys.

This is the second time the supermarket has made a conscious effort to be more eco-friendly in its retail outlets. In 2013, a branch in Haslucks Green became Britain’s most environmentally friendly convenience store after opening. For now though, Cannock is one of a kind.

Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability from Sainsbury’s also told us that: “We were the first retailer to be able to take a store completely off-grid, thanks to anaerobic digestion, and our store in Cannock continues to operate well. As a large organisation we consume lot of power, so it’s important that we explore new ways of sourcing this, including off-grid options which help alleviate our impact on the grid.”

Now let’s hope other supermarkets across the globe follow in Sainsbury’s footsteps.

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