Living Off-Grid in the City: Sustainable Joes Show Us How

Written by Lloyd Alter

Going off-grid is easier than it used to be as the equipment gets cheaper and better, but it is still a challenge. In London, Ontario, Steve Szucs and Dave Pope are doing it in the city, in a rental apartment. It’s a four-month experiment in sustainable living, trying to live off-grid, zero waste, as green as they can be, “to develop a sustainable now for nature and humanity.”

Steve wants to show that this is possible for the Average Joe, hence the name of the project, the Sustainable Joes. Dave told the CBC: “I think a lot of people are curious [about sustainability] and have an inherent feeling that something needs to be done, but they just don’t know how to do it, so we’re just trying to make this more accessible to anybody.

It isn’t easy. They have electricity courtesy of Goal Zero Canada, which supplied them with solar panels and a Yeti, a neat little battery/inverter package that gives them AC, DC and USB power. They have a solar shower (but the sun hasn’t been very cooperative) and are trying to cook by the light of a giant fresnel lens from an old projection TV that they call their “death ray.” This hasn’t worked so well yet either; they are surviving on smoothies and raw food, and have lost a lot of weight already.

Watching the videos, it is clear that these guys are learning as they go, and having some fun doing it; I am glad they are in the city instead of trying to survive in the bush or out in the desert. It is sort of what Colin Beavan tried to do with his No Impact Project, but they actually have it a bit easier than Colin did, having a backyard for solar panels and a bit of room for a garden.

Steve tells the London Free Press about the challenges:

“Are we experts in this? No. But, are we going to try and figure it out? Absolutely. Because otherwise, what kind of world are we going to leave future generations — one with no natural resources left.”

Writing about his No Impact Project, Colin Beavan wrote that the exercise “wasn’t just good for the environment, but it made them healthier, happier and richer in ways they never expected.” It looks like the same might be happening to the Sustainable Joes. More at The Sustainable Joes new website and on Facebook.

This post was originally published at Treehugger.

The top photo is a screen capture of a Sustainable Joes video.


JL A4 years ago

cool example

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Gabriel L.
Past Member 4 years ago


Neil A.
Neil A4 years ago

Good ideas but I could not see most of the videos, hopefully I am living sustainably most of the year, just going up to cut back my wisteria which is beautiful but climbing over the solar panels also which helps to keep the house cooler in summer!

Joan E.
Joan E4 years ago

And the parts that make it difficult for them to cook much of anything make it easier for them to keep their weight down. Good deal!

Ronan P.
.4 years ago

Imagine if everyone was green like these guys.

Tracey Holmes
Tracey Holmes4 years ago

Good on these guys for having a go. Thanks for the article.

Kay M.
.4 years ago

Thank you Lloyd for the article and great videos, I also enjoyed reading the numerous comments from the care 2 members.

Vivian Birdwell
Vivian B4 years ago

I may be a lot older than these guys, but trying this is something I would love to do! It sounds so GREEN!! And I love living green and clean! Thanks for posting this, Treehuggers!!

Jane Warren
Jane Warren4 years ago

thnx for this