Quantcast

Off Grid Living on Manhattan-Sized Island

Business

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.

About an hour away from Vancouver, Lasqueti is a small island home to about 400 people who live completely off the grid. Photo Credit: Google Maps

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."

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.

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.

The Earthship is built with recycled and natural materials and has some of the more modern amenities on the island.
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."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Man Quits Job to Travel in Solar-Powered Home on Wheels

How a German Village Created an Independent Grid and a Renewable Energy Future

4 Innovative Community Food Projects Empowering Low-Income Residents

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A young fingerling Chinook salmon leaps out of the water at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, California on May 16, 2018. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Trump administration is rolling back protections for endangered California fish species, a move long sought by a group of wealthy farmers that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt continued to lobby for months before he began working for the administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

By Gretchen Goldman

The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The unprecedented drought that has caused a water crisis in Zimbabwe has now claimed the life of at least 55 elephants since September, according to a wildlife spokesman, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Maria Dornelas.

By John C. Cannon

Life is reshuffling itself at an unsettling clip across Earth's surface and in its oceans, a new study has found.

Read More Show Less
An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less