I often see comments like, “This guy obviously doesn’t have a girlfriend” and they’re talking about me when they say that! Well, let me tell you, I DO have a girlfriend and she is AMAZING, and GORGEOUS, and we are SO IN LOVE! She loves to spend time at my off the grid tiny house with me and she’s coming over right now. Here, she shares her perspective of off the grid, tiny house livin’…
If you are spending time with Robin Greenfield, then you are probably spending time in nature. Robin thrives off of a simple and natural environment. I could say the opposite is also true for him, that in an artificially created environment, he is often quite uncomfortable.
I met Robin over 4 years ago and have enjoyed his company ever since. I am currently in a loving relationship with him. We both live in San Diego. I live in an apartment about five miles from Robin’s tiny home. Sometimes he stays at my place with me and often times I stay over at his home.
I have seen (and helped) The Teeny Greeny grow into what it has become today, a fully functioning off the grid home. And it is AMAZING! It’s a haven for anyone who is passionate about environmental health, but it is also an incredible experience for those who are not used to that kind of lifestyle…me being one of them.
So, what is it like for me in an off the grid, sustainable tiny house???
I wake up in a comfortable bed next to Robin. I can stretch my limbs in all directions, even though it’s not quite tall enough for me to stand upright. Decorated with an eclectic simplicity, the very tiny inside space is cozy and without clutter. I open the windows for some fresh air, in the private enclosed yard. As I make my way across the yard to the outdoor bathroom, I feel soft earth under my bare feet. The bathroom is made of bamboo walls, enclosing a space for a washbowl and cabinet, mirror and a compost toilet. Trees with songbirds create the ceiling and although I’m technically outside, I feel completely private. Of course, I was apprehensive about the idea of using a compost toilet, who wouldn’t be?? Even though I am very easy-going and have a very adaptive nature, I still felt very odd about this aspect of staying at The Teeny Greeny. However, with some carpentry, a real toilet seat and a scoop full of dried leaves to cover my tracks, I really don’t miss the flush of a conventional toilet. In fact, it’s amazing how natural it feels and how much you realize that all that water being flushed is not only unnecessary but also extremely wasteful.
Staying at an off the grid house is like taking a vacation from being wasteful. The moment you step into the yard, you stop consuming the earth and start joining it. It is not only possible for people to live this way, it is enjoyable! Yes, it’s different than what we are used to, but that doesn’t mean it has to be weird or scary or uncomfortable or any other negative assumption that comes to mind for most people. After all, humans lived for centuries without all the modern advancements we are currently used to living with. Yet, it has become unfathomable for most to even consider living without these accepted technologies.
I think of the problems we face as a result of our consumptive lifestyles as I make oatmeal on the gas-fueled stove. All of the ingredients are stocked in a pantry closet in the yard next to the kitchen counter with a sink. The water we use is extremely conservatively used, as it is harvested rainwater. Most of the food is from the local co-op. Organic grains like oatmeal and lentils, which are purchased in bulk in refillable glass jars and are stored on his well-organized pantry. Robin usually keeps a full stock of organic food, so we don’t eat out too often, as that often leads to creating trash (i.e. paper napkins and cups, to-go containers, plastic utensils…). Since we both don’t eat meat or dairy products, there isn’t a need for a refrigerator or freezer. Robin started a small garden of vegetables and herbs like, tomatoes, kale, arugula, basil, and chard. The garden adds beautiful colors to the outdoor ‘living room’, which has burlap covered straw bails as couches surrounding a small in ground fire pit.
I prepare two large bowls of organic oatmeal for our breakfast, loaded with things like fresh fruit, honey, flax seeds and coconut oil. We get cozy in an oversized lounge chair together to enjoy our meal. There are no electronics to distract us (except if I have my cell phone on). Instead, we notice how many bees are buzzing around the trees surrounding the yard. We enjoy uninterrupted conversations in the clean and relaxing space he has created with re-used materials. If we want to use the Internet for work or pleasure, we must go down the street to a nearby cafe to use the wireless. Instead, we read books in the sunny yard or walk down to the ocean for a swim.
I go home to my conventional apartment, where nearly every action I take, I am reminded of all the ways I am consuming the earths energy. Although I have made some easy modifications with Robin’s help, like installing low-flow faucets aerators to reduce water consumption, composting my vegetable/fruit scraps and switching to LED light bulbs, I’m only making the smallest effort to reduce my consumption in my own home. Witnessing and participating at a functioning off the grid home is a huge wake-up call.
Many people ask what it’s like to be with an environmental activist boyfriend or to live in a tiny house, let alone an off the grid tiny house. For me, it can be a challenge to live “differently” than others. But, I’m not living for other people’s opinions; I want to live in a way that makes me feel good about myself and my contribution to life. I also enjoy healthy challenges in life that make me grow. With knowledge, a little courage, maybe a sense of adventure…off the grid living is a fresh breath of air in SO many ways.
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