Products designed for off grid living

Now I’m always looking for ways to make living off grid a little easier or more comfortable, but still trying to be environmentally friendly at the same time.

In a recent video I showed the two products I use to do the washing – a hand cranked washing machine and a separate spin dryer that’s like a giant salad spinner. I also have a small food chopper / processor and a hand cranked sieve for mushing up food – and both of these work really well.

My sieve thing (I’m sure it’s got a proper name!) is fantastic for making tomato sauce.

When I was looking for a pressure canner, I discovered, after many hours of searching online, that I would simply have to buy it from America. That meant months of waiting for it to get here, a pretty hefty price tag, and a ridiculous amount of import tax (25% of the cost of the canner!). I sucked it up as this was going to be something that would really make a difference to us – being able to preserve our own produce, and from what I read, it should also outlive me!

Back in the UK I used to have a Kenwood Chef – one that was about 40 years old – Rog found it for me on eBay and even managed to track down all the extra bits for it. I loved it, but it was one of the many things I sold before coming here (assuming we would be living with very little electricity).

So I was thinking to myself earlier, I wonder if you can get a hand cranked food mixer, and so the search began. And as usual, I ended up looking in America, because being a prepper or living off grid is big business there! It didn’t take long until I found this …

Absolutely perfect! I know it’s a bit sad, but I actually got quite excited about this – not just mixer gadgets but a dough hook too!

And then I saw the price … $635 … and that’s without shipping and import tax. WOW! So that won’t be happening then! I’ll stick to my wooden spoon and my hands! Both are cheaper and more environmentally friendly!

Earlier in the year we also saw an advert for solar powered generators. What a great idea – charge it up on sunny days as a back up for when it’s cloudy. The price … £1,700 … but it gets worse – you start reading the reviews and it turns out that the battery will only last for about 8 months to a year! Do they think we’re actually that stupid??

And don’t get me started on the price of mangles!

I’m not sure of the reason behind the cost of these items – some, of course, would probably last a lifetime, so you have to factor that in. It could also be that because production numbers are low that that affects the cost per item. I’m not sure if you’ll ever see any of these items being massed produced, but surely if these are more environmentally friendly, then they should become more accessible and cheaper? It would seem that trying to be more environmentally friendly has become a lucrative business for some!

Time and again it comes back to this … keep it simple! Kneading bread and seitan by hand doubles up as a gym workout and costs absolutely nothing; I have wooden spoons and whisks that are thirty years old and still going strong … at the end of the day they do the same job … a little slower perhaps and a little more effort is required, but the job gets done.

And as for the solar generator, well, if you live in such a way that you don’t need very much electricity then you shouldn’t need another backup! We do still have the petrol generator for emergencies, but the longer we live like this, the less electricity we find we really need.

So I saved a fortune just by reminding myself what it is that we set out to do here … live simply and walk a more gentle path on our planet. It’s so easy to get drawn into wanting more stuff, but the lesson here is to stop and think ‘do we really need it’ – what a difference that one question could make to the world!

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