Lot of stuff about off-grid toilets in the right wing media at the moment.
At the top of the tree, Fox News has been contemplating the horrors of composting toilets. At the other end of the media power spectrum, the Sun newspaper in Corsicana Texas has been railing against men who defecate in the wild.
We had a conversation in our office the other day about men who want to leave their modern lives and go “off the grid,” says the papers prim writer. Essentially, the women in our office were wondering why anyone would want to sacrifice indoor plumbing, while the guys were simply saying “who wouldn’t want to?”
Meanwhile at Fox they are sniggering about the crazy people who compost their poo:
“Recycling is one thing, but a composting toilet? That’s when you know you’re taking the going-green trend to its, um, “natural” conclusion.” Hoh, hoh, hoh.
Over at the Corsicana Sun, their pooped-out columnist is really down on natural living”
“Having backpacked around Southeast Asia in the 1980s, I can attest that squatting to do one’s business isn’t as charming as it sounds. Although if you’re looking for really effective exercise, go to Sumatra and eat the local food, then book yourself into one of those jungle animal preserves (I chose orangutans) and just wait for the fun to begin. You’ll come back 20 pounds lighter with thighs of iron.
I mentioned the wilderness allure thing to my sister whose first comment was “but there’s no air conditioning in the woods.” Perhaps that explains why these “off the grid” guys tend to live in Alaska or Montana, but not South Texas.
“There’s green. Then there’s really green,” says the Fox news story. Even a home completely “off-the-grid” won’t necessarily have a composting toilet, but when installed properly, a composting toilet is the final nod to going green. A composting toilet will break down the waste through natural decomposition — the only thing needed is the right temperature (about 65 degrees) and enough oxygen. However to keep this environment, some key things need to be monitored, which may be more effort than most people are interested in.
While many home owners and builders are beginning to make changes to homes to incorporate eco-friendly products and materials, these are just the bud of the going-green trend. To really get the low-down on what the seriously green-minded homeowners can do to help the cause, we’ve rounded up a list of fixes that can be done in a house, whether it was built in 1912 or 2012.
Update your bulbs
You’re going to have to change out your standard incandescent bulbs eventually. This year marked the first stage of phasing out 100-watt incandescent bulbs under the CLEAN Energy Act, but 70-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs are next on the chopping block. Switching to compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or LEDs not only conserves significant electricity, but significant savings as well — more than $57 over the life of the CFL, one report found.
One of the simplest ways to upgrade your home in a green way is to purchase an energy-saving appliance. The best bet is to find one that earns the government’s “Energy Star” rating. The appliances are designed to reduce greenhouse emissions as well as your energy usage over time. Many products can mean tax rebates for your green efforts.
Reuse rain water
The simplest place to reuse rain water? In your garden. By installing an affordable rain barrel that catches runoff from your roof or gutters, you can save enough rain to water your lawn or growing spring garden.
Even if your home state is plagued by cold winters or blistering hot summers, did you know that below the frost line the ground stays about the same temperature year-round? By tapping into this, you can cool or heat your home in a very eco-friendly way. This isn’t a way to create electricity, but rather reduce the amount of energy you use to maintain your home’s temperature. Installing a geothermal system isn’t cheap (estimates range from $11,000 to $30,000 for a 2,000-sq ft home), but with tax incentives and significant energy bill reductions, the savings are incredible. If you plan on being in your home for a long time, it could be worth it and perhaps add to your home’s re-sale value.
Solar energy has been powering calculators for years, but it’s only recently become more common in homes due to a drop in costs of installing a solar energy system. While powering your home using solar energy still isn’t cheap, it’s one of the few ways a homeowner can “live off the grid” by storing extra energy in batteries. The other option is to continue a connection to the utility grid, buying the power you need and selling the power back when you produce enough on your own.
Reuse gray water
The EPA estimates that an average family of four uses 400 gallons of water every day. While not all that water can be reused, gray water, which is water from your sink, laundry, but not contaminated by waste (i.e., not toilet water) can be recycled. While not as common as some other green home features, gray water recycling systems take the water from your morning shower or from yesterday’s washing machine cycle and filters it for reuse in your toilet or your garden.
And here is the rest of the story from the Sun”
Desperate to get to the bottom of this mystery, I asked other men who vaguely muttered things like “freedom” and “no stress,” but this didn’t make sense to me. What’s more liberating than driving a good vehicle down a long empty stretch of highway with some great music on the radio? What’s less stressful than watching “Person of Interest” on TV under the air conditioning in an overstuffed chair with a bowl of fresh popcorn on your lap? These delights of modern technology cannot be enjoyed from a lean-to in the woods.
Finally, the philosopher of our office ( summed it up like this: “I think a lot of people work at jobs they hate, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”
That’s essentially the short form of that old joke where the millionaire meets a poor fisherman and encourages him to get a real job. The fisherman asks why and the guy explains that he can make lots of money, and eventually retire and go fishing.
I did quit my high-stress job in the big city to take a lower-stress but poorer-paying job here, so I certainly understand that. But to give up indoor plumbing? That’s crazy talk.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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