Tips For Living Off The Grid: Snapple Bottles

A couple years ago, I injured my neck, lost my job, house and marriage. My sister has some rural property in Kalama, Washington. It has a nice little cabin on it and a year round freshwater stream. It’s a beautiful area, so I took on the adventure of living in the cabin with no plumbing while I figured my life out.

Living off the grid almost sounds glamorous. Sustainable, honest living is very appealing to many people, including myself. The little cabin has a rickety piece of electrical cable, connected to the neighbor’s electrical service. It worked most of the time, but there were times I had to run my little fridge off an inverter or generator. There were times I had to move my drinks into an ice chest.

Notice that I said “little fridge.” Living off the grid means, among other things, keeping your drinks cold–in a stream, in an ice chest–whatever you can do.

Being able to keep your drinks cold off the grid means that you’re not going to have much space. Food like meat, cheese and eggs are always going to have a higher priority. One of my biggest problems living on the cheap in a cabin in the woods was not having enough room for things like sun tea, which needs a big, gallon-sized glass jar to brew. I was taking wild berries from the property and infusing the tea with it. But not even on a good day did I have enough room to chill the tea and iced coffee I was making. Enter the Snapple bottles.

Snapple bottles are made from good quality glass, and the tops hold a good seal long after the original tea has been consumed. You can take the original bottles, rinse them with warm water, and then take off the labels with a product like Goof Off, which we also use to de-label beer bottles for the brewery here in Oregon. Once cleaned, they can be re-used indefinitely.

What I would do is brew my tea in the big glass pitcher, infuse it with wild blackberries and thimble-berries I picked that day, and then pour it into the Snapple bottles. It was better than the original Snapple, not to mention infinitely more sustainable. Because another issue with living off the grid is trash.

There’s really only 4 ways to deal with trash off the grid:

  1. Burn it, which may or may not be safe/legal depending on the local laws and time of year. 
  2. Bury it, which also may or may not be legal, and not very sustainable or good for the environment.
  3. Load it in a truck and drive to the nearest dump.
  4. Don’t create trash in the first place, and there’s no problem to solve.
Living in a cabin, I quickly learned food discipline and trash discipline. The nearest dump is over an hour drive away from my sister’s cabin. So I practiced #4 when possible. 
Now I’m living in Oregon, which is a “green” state. I’m on the grid, though still living in a small space–a 27 foot travel trailer. Trash is a big deal here, and I still use a few tricks that I used in the cabin, like pouring tea and cold coffee into Snapple bottles. It also keeps my drinks fresher than a pitcher, which can pick up a weird odors from the fridge. 
Also, pouring your drinks into the Snapple bottles while still hot will make it re-activate the seal on the cap when it cools. You’ll hear the same “pop” sound as when you first opened it. So always pour your drinks in hot, or at least warm if you can!

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