This article in the New York Times feeds a lot of people’s ideas about what it means to live a green lifestyle: a guy all by himself in the desert, living off the grid in a dwelling he pieced together out of old shipping containers.
That scares a lot of people. Heck, it scares me! But it’s important to note that John Wells, the occupant of said desert paradise, is happy. He’s got a few hundred thou in the bank and he’s there because he wants to be.
I know people like that. My friend Juanita’s no-plumbing, no-electricity hilltop cabin that she and her late husband built by hand is as frugal a dwelling as I know, and culturally about as far from the New York City that both Mr. Wells and I chose to leave behind as it’s possible to get.
But the point I want to make is this: you can still live a green lifestyle and enjoy all the creature comforts and social conveniences of modern life. Consider Amory Lovins, energy futurist extraordinaire, whose spacious and gadget-filled 4,000-square-foot home was sustainability state-of-the-art when it was constructed in 1983. In the cold, snowy Colorado Rockies (just outside Aspen), he doesn’t need a furnace, or an air conditioner—and his monthly electric bill could be made back by skipping a couple of lattes per month at a fancy coffee shop..
Frugal, green lifestyles can be about comfort, ease, lower maintenance costs, and even luxury. They don’t have to be about deprivation—unless, like John Wells, you don’t think of being a hermit in the desert as deprivation, but as liberation. It’s his choice, and I say, go for it.