Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the City or Off the Grid: Which is Greener?

This is a great debate on, available on the website or a podcast. Lloyd Alter and Nick Rosen debate which is greener: living in a dense city, or living off of the grid. 

We probably won't ever solve this debate, if only because there will always be people who want/need to live in the city or the country. Even if one was found to be infinitely more environmentally friendly, people would most likely stay put, because of personal preference, where their family is, not to mention the fact that there will always be economic opportunities that are unique to both. 

 Depressing but interesting: how we stack up. From Treehugger.

Of course, the way to make living off the grid the most green is to not drive (or have deliveries made), and not have any infrastructure running to your house, which may be nearly impossible and not appealing to most people. I touched on this subject earlier this year in my review of David Owen's Green Metropolis, which is mentioned in the article.

For me, the takeaway from this debate comes from this statement from Nick: 
"To say that it's more ecological to live in the city is telling urban dwellers what they want to hear, which is that it's okay. They can feel good about living in the city if they just compost a little bit and walk a little bit. In fact, by living in the city, you're subscribing to the great consumer society. The idea that you can somehow subscribe to part of it and not all of it and not be blamed for the vast, embodied energy and the huge transport system and the vast number of roads is trying to make yourself feel good, and no more than that."

The statement "if they just compost a little bit and walk a little bit" can be applied widely over every lifestyle. Just because we are doing one thing well does not mean we should not be going all things well. We may not ever, but we can strive towards it. On positive note, which I think is always needed in debates like these, I am so inspired by how we have taken green living into our own hands--because it makes sense, because it is the right thing to do, and in spite of the infrastructure that has set us up to fail--not because of a mandate, the lack of which the US has received plenty of heat for internationally.

Nick's Website:

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