Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Mrs. Zachman's Class from Woodbury, MN. Mrs. Zachman's Class Wonders, “What does it mean to live off the grid?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Mrs. Zachman's Class!

Do your parents or older relatives ever talk about the "good old days"? As they reminisce sentimentally about phones with cords and doing research with books in the library rather than on the Internet, you might envision them riding in horse-drawn buggies across the plains with nary a building or cell phone tower in sight.

While not all older adults yearn for a simpler time, it's true that we've become a bit spoiled by all the technological advances that have occurred over the past century. Setting aside modern marvels like cell phones and the Internet, it's hard for us to imagine living in a time when we would have to worry about things like fresh drinking water or bathroom facilities.

Yet, some people today do make the choice to live a simpler life that resembles in many ways what it was like to live long ago. There's a phrase that has become popular to describe this new "old" lifestyle. We call it living "off the grid."

So what exactly is the "grid"? And what does it mean to live off of it? When people speak of the "grid," they're talking about the power grid. It's the interconnected system that delivers electricity from a variety of sources to people and businesses via public utilities.

Electricity isn't the only public utility most people enjoy, though. A typical modern American home is connected to electric power, water and sewage lines, natural gas, telephone, and the Internet.

Living off the grid means different things to different people. For some, it means simply generating their own electric power, usually by relying upon solar and wind systems. In addition to supplying their own electricity, most people living off the grid also get rid of their telephone and Internet service.

Some people living off the grid might still rely upon public utilities for water and sewage services. Others, however, might want to completely cut ties to public utilities by digging their own wells for water and installing their own septic systems to take care of their sewage.

Natural gas lines can be replaced by propane tanks. Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can supply heat in winter. Generators that run on propane or gasoline can supply electricity in case of an emergency.

While alternatives exist to most of the modern conveniences provided by public utilities, living off the grid might sound like a lot of work. And it certainly can be. So why do people do it?

Some people live off the grid as a way to separate themselves as much as possible from all aspects of modern society. For these people, living off the grid is akin to a political statement of personal independence from a society and government they find oppressive.

Others view living off the grid as a necessity. In light of modern threats like natural disasters, war, and the possibility of the collapse of systems that are increasingly interconnected, they want to live in such a way that they're prepared to survive even the most apocalyptic events.

Most people who live off the grid, however, do so as a personal choice to live a more "green" life. In a world with limited resources, they seek to live a sustainable lifestyle that minimizes the resources they consume.

By growing their own food and producing their own power from renewable sources, some people living off the grid can actually reach the point at which they produce more resources than they consume. So what do you think? Could you live off the grid?

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will take you to an island unlike any other in the world!