Everyone talks about how hard transitioning to living sustainably is.
They haven’t tried it—that is, seriously changing culture, not just trying to avoid straws.
Yes, by practicing with easier things like avoiding packaged food, I prepared myself somewhat, but no way could I have predicted I could live for over a year with my apartment disconnected from the grid.
Why couldn’t I have predicted it? Because I believed the lies and false stories founding the culture I lived in. The ones that persist are the ones that sustain and further that culture, not the ones that improve people’s lives if they conflict. I believed that nature was scary, that technology was good, and so on. I discounted obvious observations, like that everyone had lived their entire lives without an electric grid.
Despite taking on the challenge alone with no partner to help shoulder the burden, despite being middle-aged with a trick knee, and other things that would make it harder for me than most people reading these words, though I had plenty of advantages, with no experience trying to live disconnected from the grid, I made it over a year.
I didn’t say I’m living sustainably. Far from it. Polluting and depleting over ninety percent less than a typical American isn’t sustainable. I rely on solar power, which is not green, clean, or renewable. But I’ve found the joy in reducing a lot, so I’m closer than ever, plus I’m learning from people who do live sustainably, like the San, Hadza, Kogi, Tsimane, and Matses, whom I learn about from people who have lived with them.
Here’s a picture of the United States’ largest coal-burning power plant. Its pollution and depletion kills people. We pay for that pollution. We don’t have to. Sustainability isn’t abstract: If you do something that kills people and you don’t want to kill people, you have to stop doing it, even if you like it.
Here’s me on the roof on a video call while my solar panels charged my battery around the winter solstice, when I realized I’d made it past the hardest time, meaning I’d probably keep going the rest of the year. Then I’d likely keep going.
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