a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Conveniently Off-Grid – a Summer Adventure

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

It’s beginning to look like I just might make it happen – an off-grid Summer. Since last year, I’ve been planning and hoping and dreaming about a low-carbon adventure in Vermont for the Summer. I’ve found a spot near Brattleboro – it has a small 100-year-old building on it which used to be a blacksmith shop. No frills, that’s certain, but a hopefully non-leaky roof over my head. The rest? Minimize and create is my mantra. Here are some of my ideas so far:

I’m ready to use a composting toilet, and solar shower, filled in a nearby pond. Bonfire and a candle lantern at night will be enough to get me through the limited hours of darkness during these warm months. I’m used to eating mostly raw food during this time of year so I won’t worry much about cooking, though some kind of makeshift root cellar would be nice for vegetables – I’m still working on that one, so if you have ideas, pass them on. Although I’ll be next to 100 acres of preservation and near a State Park, I will also be within a 6mile bicycle ride to town, so I can feed myself healthily without refrigeration by making the trip every few days.

Everything but the kitchen sink, right? Well, actually, I found a couple versions of that, too! If you’ve been to music or other festivals, you’ve probably seen the “Use Yer Foot” washing station, made here in NC. One soapy jug and one fresh water container is perfect for washing up on demand. I can also collect the grey water in the tub below to wash dishes. For the more portable “sink”, you can also try the collapsable nylon and cable versions holding between 5 – 20 liters by Sea to Summit. Fill at your nearest water source, then carry back to camp.

This one I’ve been waiting for – grid or no-grid. The collapsible Solo Pack, by Fozzils – a bowl, plate, cup and spoon, made from bisphenol-A-free plastic that fold perfectly flat and weighs only a few ounces. The cup is what I’ve really been after – something more convenient than a water bottle that I can have with me everywhere.

What will I be doing up there in the North East, you ask? Getting back to the basics, doing some outdoor yoga on used plywood, hiking with the dogs, and writing and dreaming about a simply sustainable life for everyone. After that, I’ll let you know!

Tags: ,

5 Responses to “Conveniently Off-Grid – a Summer Adventure”

  1. Don Tucker Says:

    Hope you get your dream Summer. Have you checked out Dan Price over at and he wrote a great book called Radical Simplicity. He writes and tells about his adventures and life living in a Hobbit Hole in Oregon.

    If you need the book he wrote, I will mail it to you to get your adventure underway.



  2. tao Says:

    Hi Don!
    Thanks so much for your encouragement and support~~~
    And for turning me on to Dan – I have not see his book – I’m touched that you would send it to me and would greatly appreciate it. Thank you thank you.

  3. Sami Grover Says:

    Hei TAO,

    Sounds AMAZING! We are gonna missyou around here though. If you do need to do some cooking, consider making/buying a solar cooker – I#’ve been experimenting with mine in March, and have catagorically proven that it is possible to burn myself fairly painfully when it’s only 60 degrees outside.

    Other zero carbon cooking options would include a small gassifier cookstove (though actually I believe they do require AA batteries for the fan) from Victory Gas Works

    And if you wanna cook and heat efficiently, then a rocket stove might make more sense than an open bonfire – check out make your own instructions here:

    Good luck!!!!!

  4. tao Says:

    Thanks so much for the love and ideas, Sami. Of course, you should come up for a visit. I want to go super minimalist, but I thought of the solar oven – I’ll check out the site. I was wondering how it would with the cooler temps in VT, but you just answered that question ! Thank you!
    See you,

  5. Bennis Says:

    Loved the post. I prefer the manner wherein you reduced this issue. down in to portions
    – it suddenly becomes not difficult to appreciate. In addition it honestly is entertaining to see. Carry on the very good work and carry on with the website.

Leave a Reply

THE TAO OF CHANGE [the way of a better world]

brought to you by The Change, a strategy and design agency with an agenda to change the world