Dumbing Up

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Maxim, a magazine better known for its Video Vixens than its interest in the environment has surprised us all with a feature on how to go off the grid. And its rather good advice, albeit delivered with its usual dumb and sexist attitude.

“Be self-sufficient and stick it to the utility companies by living a meager lifestyle!” says the kicker to last month’s story, alongside pictures of Kelly Monaco, Rachelle Leah, Vanessa Minnillo and Jessica Alba.

Anyways, the advice they give is spot on. To see the advice, click :


Biofuel with the groceries

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Lucy Neville-Rolfe

Owning a biodiesel car will be easier in future now that Britain’s top supermarket group Tesco Plc is set to expand its sales of biofuels over the next few months with UK duty incentives helping make them competitively priced, said company executive Lucy Neville-Rolfe.

But maybe the best answer is to make your own biofuel, and cut Tesco out of the loop.

How to Make BiodieselHow to Make Biodiesel – buy it from Amazon UK for £5.99 and 4% goes to Off-Grid

How to Make Biodiesel – Amazon US


A Year in the Kalahari

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Helen and her crazy meerkat – Sexy

Remoteness, like many things in life, is perhaps only a relative measure, writes Zoologist Helen Johnson who has just returned from a year in Africa.

Imagine a small reserve in the dry dunes and scrubland of the southern Kalahari Desert. There is no radio or television reception. No newspaper deliveries. During a year’s stay at the reserve one can expect about four excursions away from the site, most of which will be no further than the 3 hour drive to the nearest ‘town’. Relative to the daily bustle of city life this is way, way off the grid.

My time in the Kalahari was spent on a research project studying the behaviour of meerkats, a small mongoose, as portrayed by ‘Timon’ in the Lion King.

(Discovery Channel – Wild Discovery: Meerkats – A Kalahari Saga – buy it from Amazon UK

Meerkats,Cohorts of the Kalahari – VHS – buy it from Amazon US)


For the Eco-kid in all of us – book review

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Chiras: Eco-Kidult

Saving our environmentally abused planet is never for ourselves but for the NextGen.

As Dan Chiras points out in his much-needed book “EcoKids: Raising Children Who Care For the Earth” (New Society Publishers, $17.95), the key to a sustainable future lies with today’s youth, the ones who are going to be stuck with the mess we’ve created.

Chiras, who lives off the grid and hasn’t had to pay an electric bill since 1996, provides the ideas; parents must be the ones to introduce the rapidly disappearing natural world to their children. Each chapter offers a primer on environmental issues and short case studies.

EcoKids : Raising Children Who Care for the EarthEcoKids : Raising Children Who Care for the Earth – buy it from Amazon US

Ecokids – Buy it from Amazon UK
Ecokids – Buy it from Amazon Canada


Whizzer of Oz

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Solar race
We take the fast road

Twenty-two bug-shaped solar cars designed and built by corporations and universities from around the world set out across the vast, inhospitable Australian outback on Sunday in the eighth World Solar Challenge.

Japan’s Sky Ace Tiga car, from the Ashiya University in Osaka, led off after qualifying fastest for the 3000km race across the centre of Australia from the tropical north city of Darwin to Adelaide in South Australia.

Ashiya University’s Professor Kunio Nakagawa said his team’s car, one of the race favourites, was capable of speeds averaging 95kph.


Slow down? Manana….

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You take the slow road – Carl Honore

British heir to the throne Prince Charles recently spoke out about the need for us all to slow down. Everything is just getting faster and faster he told a BBC interviewer. It can’t go on. That interview took place shortly after Charles received a signed copy of “In Praise of Slow” by Carl Honoré. The book has been published in 20 languages and over 40 countries including Brazil, China, India. You can click on the link below to buy it and 4% will go to benefit this web site. The book is a paean to slowing down without stopping altogether, written by a busy, unashamedly ambitious, and formerly impatient financial journalist.

Honoré lives in London and spends his time speaking and consulting on the subject of slowing down. He spoke to us about the overlap between the slow philosophy and the off-grid philosophy.

“Off-grid is in a sense about getting back to natural rhythms,” Honoré said. “Being aware of where your fuel is coming from, or the source of the water on the land, it plugs you into nature. The whole hyperstimulated future we have created is based on a divorce from nature and a move towards clock driven rhythms.

The “slow movement” is growing rapidly. But is its downshifting philosophy practical for busy urbanites? Yes it is. Frankly, we at Off-Grid see “being busy” as a sign of failure. (to read the rest of the story or buy Honore’s book from Amazon on the next page, click more — 4% of the purchase price goes to support this web site)

Shop for Mind and Spirit products at!


Anita Roddick interview

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Anita Roddick stepped down as chairwoman of The Body Shop Plc a few years ago to concentrate on environmental and social campaigns. She’s been spending time in Canada and seen a lot of off-grid activity going on there. “There are exciting experiments…. in pockets of British Columbia and Canada,” she told us.
“These are creative alternatives and should be supported and catalogued,” Anita said in an exclusive interview with Off-Grid.

Anita likes the off-grid life, when she can get around to it. “each year I camp and river raft in isolated rivers in Canada and Alaska. Your comfort level radically changes within a week. You sleep better with your head on the ground. I think the experience is valuable and teaches you how little consumer goods you really need, how much noise pollution you experience in every day life. You definitely mainly get used to not depending on comfort!”

Although she is still a figurehead for her ethical cosmetics company, Anita is currently fronting the Embrace The Revolution campaign (, which promotes the use of wind energy. Roddick spoke to reporter Sarah Ewing:


DANGER from the Grid

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Grid – hidden danger

The London Sunday Times says a UK government agency has acknowledged for the first time that people can suffer nausea, headaches and muscle pains when exposed to electromagnetic fields from electricity pylons.

The condition known as electrosensitivity, a heightened reaction to electrical energy, will be recognised as a physical impairment.

A report by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), to be published next month, will state that increasing numbers of British people are suffering from the syndrome. While the total figure is not known, thousands are believed to be affected to some extent.

According to the Electrosensitivity web site (, symptoms include “Flu like scratchy sore throat; Pain in ears; tingling skin on face; skin rash.” Most academics studying the subject are still psychologistds trying to work out if the condition is real or imagined, but the new report will change that.

TriField Electromagnetic Field MeterTriField Electromagnetic Field Meter – buy it fromAmazon US

You can buy a meter to detect electro-magnetic radiation —
The TriField Meter offers magnetic, electric, and radio/microwave detection in one package.


Ditchmonkey joins the team

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Ditchmonkey, the Sotheby’s employee who is living in a ditch in order to raise money for the Woodland Trust, is to begin writing for Off-Grid.

Ditchmonkey, real name Hugh Sawyer, shot to fame last Sunday when the Observer newspaper profiled his one-year rough sleeping project. Since then he has been featured on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 5, and in The Mirror, Mail, Standard, and German TV.

He has touched a nerve in the national and international psyche because he is living off-grid at the same time as holding down a full-time job – a trick we would all like to pull off. “The company has been really good about it” he said when he met the team for a drink on friday night. Well, we had drinks, and Ditchmonkey stuck to tea which he drank from a tiny glass, pausing frequently to refill.


Promote off-grid in your community

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Community Choices for Sustainable Living aims to provide opportunities for individuals and communities to move towards more sustainable lives, writes its co-organiser, Cara Naden.

We have a grant from DEFR’s Environmental Action Fund to get the project on the road. Since that arrived, we’ve been identifying people and places that are able to inspire others to green up.

There is support from local authorities and other groups with initiatives such as composting and recycling, and there are many opportunities for communities to go off-grid. For example: Making your own solar water heater, a wormery, a wildlife garden, rain water collector or organising a car share scheme, a group delivery of organic vegetable boxes or alternative energy for your community.

We are looking for individuals or groups in the West Country who can take some inspiration from others and feed it back to members of their community. Any person who is interested in greening their community in some way is welcome to apply to become a volunteer. Click “more” to see rest of this story.
Fostering Sustainable Behaviour: An Introduction to Community-based Social MarketingFostering Sustainable Behaviour: An Introduction to Community-based Social Marketing – buy it from Amazon UK and 4% goes to Off-Grid
Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing – buy it from Amazon US


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