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Savings Guide

The sustainable life: still more of a challenge than a choice

Energy effecient living

Let’s have a moment of honesty, shall we? The sustainable, eco-friendly life is not always easy. In fact, it’s not always possible, even if you live in a very developed area of the world where sustainable materials and energy efficient products are easier to come by. One reason many people opt to do a dozen small things, like installing an EcoSwitch or buying energy efficient appliances, is simply because these strategies are proven and are relatively easy to do, so you at least know you are getting a return on your investment without slowing down your life.

The fact is, living in a truly sustainable manner is very difficult. Sustainable materials are often more expensive. The entrenched infrastructure of the developed world is often designed to resist your efforts. And many eco-friendly products simply do not work as well as their less green counterparts. This is one reason why most advice on the subject of ‘going green’ tends to be about the details – the small changes you can make – as opposed to Total Lifestyle Conversions (TLC). To see what happens when you attempt a TLC in the modern world, let’s consider a couple of heroic adventurers in London, Ontario: The Sustainable Joes.

Solar Panels, Raw Food, and Energy Saving Devices!

Steve Szucs and Dave Pope aren’t famous, they’re just two guys who decided to see if they could live a truly sustainable lifestyle in a modern city, and are documenting the experiment. For four months they’re renting an apartment and seeing if it’s truly possible to live a lifestyle that has no negative impact on the world. So far, frankly, it’s been a bit rough.

They’re off-grid; relying on solar panels and a Yeti (a battery/inverter) supplied from Goal Zero Canada, as well as a solar shower. But the sun hasn’t been out much during their experiment, and their showers have been cold and their nights dimly lit. They haven’t had much luck cooking, either, and have been eating a diet composed of a lot of raw food. It obviously doesn’t help much to have energy efficient appliances or energy saving switches if you don’t get enough juice from your solar panels in the first place!

Heroes and Adventurers

Projects like the Sustainable Joes are vital, however, for several reasons.

Number one, it’s important that everyday people like Steve and Dave try these living experiments, because they are facing the same challenges anyone would face, and while their experience has been choppy, they are actively coming up with solutions – solutions that will be disseminated and handed down to others, the people who will follow in Steve and Dave’s footsteps.

Number two, it’s important to demonstrate that the world as it is currently organised is actually resistant to being sustainable and green. It simply should not be this difficult. Until the basic way the infrastructure and resources of the developed world is changed to make this transition easier, nothing will ever really change, because most people lack the enthusiasm, skills, and resources to exist outside the support system of society. That’s why societies exits, after all – to make living easier for all involved. Right now, society is failing in its basic role when it comes to those seeking an off-grid life.

Finally, it’s crucial that the products being marketed as ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ be tested in real world conditions. It’s great to read that a ‘green’ apartment has a solar shower. It’s something else to experience what it’s like to actually rely on a solar shower – especially when you have some overcast days in a row. While these concerns may seem petty, the fact is the population at large will not pursue these sorts of products or lifestyle changes unless they are easy to acquire, easy to install, and work just as well as their more wasteful counterparts.

Steve and Dave should be saluted and supported in their grand experiment! Follow the adventure at, and hopefully be inspired to try your hand at your own sustainability experiment.