Whether you want reduce your environmental impact or ditch city life, many of us dream of dropping off the grid and living off the land. Not many of can actually cut the cord, but on the small island of Lasqueti, about 400 residents are living out that dream.
The island lies about 50 miles northwest of Vancouver in the Strait of Georgia. To reach the remote locale, one can take a passenger-only ferry that comes two or three times a day, weather permitting of course.
At 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, Lasqueti's about the same size and shape as Manhattan, but that's about the only thing the islands have in common. Residents aren't connected to the province's electric utility BC Hydro, so energy comes from solar, wind or hydro power, as well as fossil fuel generators. Some just do without electricity.
The idea of being free from our hairdryers and energy giants is often romanticized, but self-sufficiency isn't easy. Lasqueti has no industry or even much of an economic system, and as the community's website puts it, "Nobody can work a five-day week away from home because it takes three days work just to survive—to cut firewood, to maintain power, water and waste systems, to work in your garden to produce your food."
BC Gulf Island #cabinlife is def in the cards for me. Lasqueti Island, you are now a nominee! http://t.co/Nd0uSdyzLS pic.twitter.com/fWyHF2jIZ5
— Kellie Hart (@kellieinvic) March 4, 2015
Flippin' into some cold liquid. Lasqueti island. pic.twitter.com/zsHumsawVZ
— jeremy Levin (@ridgemont_high) June 22, 2014
Modern conveniences such as microwaves or toasters are obsolete when there isn't a grocery store. Sanitation services such as garbage pickup or a sewage system don't exist either. In fact, the island's website includes an excerpt from one resident's book called, "How to Shyte on Lasqueti," with detailed subsections on composting toilets, greywater, septic fields and more.
With so much freedom, it comes as no surprise that money isn't much of an issue. People grow their own food, barter with each other or go to the free store, a recycling center where people can pick up reusable clothing, books, appliances and household objects free of charge. The island also has an elementary school, volunteer firefighters, organic farms, a handful of B&B's and one restaurant (that's also a bakery and general store).
Canadian news outlet 16x9 documented the island and featured 83-year-old Al Gainsbauer, who has lived on the Lasqueti since he quit his engineering job in 1989. Gainsbauer drinks water from a creek, bakes his own bread and lives in a two-story, solar-and-hydro-powered home he built himself because, "I've just always wanted to live out in the woods."
Check out this video, which has received nearly 800,000 views.
There's also Lasqueti native Tikki Smith, a champion St. Bernard breeder, who allows her 42 giant dogs to roam around her land.
Want to move to the most dog-filled island in Canada? Look no further than Lasqueti Island! http://t.co/vJ1Zgalqcp pic.twitter.com/3p74YfYhcE
— Topmoving.ca (@Topmoving_ca) March 4, 2015
Although many dwellers live in modest homes (where a shower might require a walk through the woods), there are more luxurious homes such as the Earthship. This spacious abode is made of natural and recycled materials and its walls are made of old tires. Power comes from renewable energy, and it also contains relatively modern comforts such as indoor plumbing and flat-screen TVs.
Photo credit: 16x9
In the video below, Lasqueti women describes their off-grid island life, and share some of their ups ("The sense of community," "The freedom") and downs ("It's a lot of work," "The inconvenience of living here can be challenging").
No electricity, no money, no paved roads. It's safe to say that Lasqueti attracts certain types of individuals (And very smart ones at that. According to Canadian census data, Lasqueti is the most highly educated community in all of British Columbia). Another local woman featured in the video below, who's lived on the island for four decades, said it best: "Wussies don't cut it."
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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