Living Within Our Means
One of the things we rapidly discovered since our arrival here off the grid north of Xcalak, Mexico is how closely we are tied to our environment and its resources. Nowhere before, has it ever been so obvious that our behavior and consumption habits directly impact our living situation and wellbeing. One of the advantages – or call it disadvantages if you insist – of living off the grid is that you quickly become aware of how precious resources are. Just a few short weeks ago we simply didn’t run out of “utilities”. Thoughtlessly waste a little water or electricity “back home” and it didn’t feel like it mattered too much. We were blissfully removed from the source, willfully unaware that what is output at the faucet or the switch has to be input somewhere. Sadly, in all probability, that somewhere is probably made just a little bit more depleted and/or polluted by our thought-less actions.
Turn the faucet or flip a switch. There is always more to be had. It is so easy, too easy. We were spoiled and we took advantage of far more than we should.It is easy to compensate for wastefulness by throwing money at it. I am not talking about consciously buying your way out of a jam. I am talking about how we operate in everyday life. If we forget to turn a light off or leave the television running while we aren’t using it the only penalty is a financial one. Without thinking, the meter sells us a little more of what seems to be an endless supply. Have a leaky faucet? No problem. We will just fix it when we get around to it. I mean, it’s not like they can’t suck more out of a reservoir somewhere and send it to us for just a few extra cents.Fast forward two weeks.
Here, off the grid, if we use too much electricity from the solar energy system and the batteries are ruined, you have no more electricity. If we take long showers or ignore that leaky faucet, the cistern runs dry. It is a balancing act, a dance if you will, and it makes you appreciate your precious resources just that much more.If you generate trash, you have to find a way to dispose of it. Leave it by the road here and it stays there. No one comes by and removes it from our sight and therefore our mind. We have to burn it, compost it or recycle it and if something goes to the dump, we transport it ourselves. We have also become aware of how horribly over packaged everything is.
One of the great side effects of this lifestyle is how aware we have become of how many things we thought we simply couldn’t live without, soon wind up needing to be hauled away.We appreciate the awareness that everything we thoughtlessly used to do has consequences somewhere else. The thing that most brings it home is discarded plastic coming in with the waves. Walk on the beach and you can see how years of people carelessly disposing of anything plastic in the ocean has consequences – even on a faraway little beach paradise in Mexico.