Competition winners

sarah ifield
Sarah – winner

Thanks for all your entries in the “Why I want to live off-grid” competition, with two prizes of hampers of cleaning products from Ecover. The first winning entry is from Alex Benady and the next is from Sarah Ifield who lives on a houseboat in Huntingdon:

Alex Benady
Alex Benady

I live with my family fully connected to all amenities, close to the centre of London. I’d like to pretend that my desire to live off-grid was born of altruism, ethics and a concern for the future of the planet. While I do care about all those things, if I’m honest that is not my motivation.

In truth it is born of a sort of survivalist instinct not a reactionary red neck vision of fighting government and communism, but of a fear that the world as we know it is going to break down some time soon and I don’t want to go down with it.
Living in central London it sometimes feels that we are not so much on grid as caught in a nightmareish lattice , that at once provides the frame work of our lives and acts as an inescapable prison.

The earth beneath us is a criss cross of tube networks, pipes, tunnels, power lines and waste outlets. At ground level there are roads choked with traffic , railways rumbling and screaming for twenty hours a day, telephone wires and cable ducts.

Above us the air is thick with planes preparing to land at Heathrow, City and Gatwick airports, microwaves from local telephone antennae, advertising blimps, executive helicopters, police spotter planes and aircraft trailing commercial messages.

It’s all feels very concrete, robust and permanent. And yet like a precision watch with a million moving parts, it is in fact frighteningly precarious. It only needs one small wheel to stop running smoothly for the whole thing to come grinding to a halt.

You only have to look at the petrol driver’s strike a few years ago when the people who drive the tankers that deliver petrol and other fuels, went on strike. Within hours there were enormous queues backing up at petrol stations. Within a couple of days there was talk of supermarket shelves being empty.

The prospect of people starving in the streets was a mere seventy two hours away and that was just from three hundred drivers going on strike. Imagine the consequences of repeated flooding of low lying areas, rapidly changing weather patterns, crop failures huge displaced populations and the break down of hundreds of pieces of the precision mechanism that constitutes our global economy.

I do regularly and that’s why the autonomy of living off-grid is so attractive to me.


My reasons for wanting to live off-grid are threefold.

The main reason is that I am passionate about leading a low impact lifestyle and gradually becoming self reliant. A main factor in this is being able to generate my own energy, ideally electricity through a renewable method such as solar panels or wind turbines. I am also interested in the use of biodiesel, but would prefer to make use of an entirely renewable source.

My second reason is that I believe that it is important to move away from globalisation and the dominance of multinational corporations. Energy provision is a prime industry in which such corporations flourish, and there has been relatively little done to highlight and address this issue.

Thirdly, one of my issues with society, and individuals, is the general lack of assuming personal responsibility for actions taken; general accountability. This on an individual and social level is one of the main reasons that the environment (as well as other major issues) has been largely ignored until recently; taking in a more holistic approach to providing for one’s own needs would greatly reduce over-consumption.

8 Responses

  1. I lived off-grid for 2 1/2 years about 12 years ago. I am now in the process of getting back to it. When I lived in my ancient travel trailer in the woods I had no water or power. I brought water from town and used my truck battery for my radio and lights. This was very low scale living. I found it was delightfully easy to live with no bills or ringing of a phone. My work schedule was fixed and that was all I needed. I returned to the city to complete my education which has led me into greater opportunities for off-grid living. Now I plan to make my own bio-deisel, and use solar power to run the well, lighting, etc. We don’t watch television and are busy with our farm animals and gardening. We have time and money on our hands to expand our lives with as many off-grid things as we can. I love the lifestyle. It is a great way to take care of ourselves, our planet and to teach our youngsters that there are other ways of living a full life without sucking everything dry.

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