Solarpunk Explained

Solarpunk started as an art style that imagined humans living in urban paradises chock-full of nature and running on clean energy technology. Now, it's an environmental movement that asks, "how do we make that happen?"
Solarpunk Explained - Wildgrid Home
Art by Jessica Perlstein via

Picture this: you wake up, and throw open all of your bedroom windows. Clean, crisp air carries in the sounds of birds singing and bicycle bells ringing, instead of smog and car horns honking.

You go into your kitchen and turn on your all electric induction stove - powered by the solar panels on your roof - to boil water for your morning tea. While it heats up, you visit your personal vertical garden to pick a ripe, red tomato to slice up and put on your breakfast toast.

Fossil fuels are nothing but a distant memory. All is well.

This is the future imagined by solarpunks.

What is solarpunk?

The term “solarpunk” supposedly first started floating around on the internet way back in 2008. It originally referred to a genre of art and fiction that was in direct opposition to the aesthetics and narratives of steampunk and cyberpunk.

Purveyors of steampunk and cyberpunk imagine dystopian futures dominated by steam power, rogue robots, and rampant corruption.

They’re basically creative pessimists. 🤖 👎

Solarpunk Explained - Wildgrid Home
Art by Jessica Woulfe via

Solarpunk artists, on the other hand, optimistically envision a future in which humans have harnessed technology and reconnected with nature to create a world that is greener and brighter than the one we are living in today.

In light of our rapidly changing climate, the word solarpunk has evolved to refer to an environmental movement inspired by the ideas and values behind solarpunk art. The movement centers on the belief that the future imagined by solarpunk artists is attainable, and asks the question: how do we get there?

Art by Max Grib via

What are the principles of solarpunk?

The pillars of a solarpunk society are clearly defined. Here are the broad strokes.

Renewable Energy: Solarpunks encourage a rapid transition away from fossil fuel use, and instead advocate for the widespread deployment of renewables. A truly solarpunk society is 100% reliant on clean energy technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.

🍃 Harmony with Nature: In the ideal solarpunk society, community gardens abound, permacultures and vertical farms thrive, and indigenous practices are commonplace. Instead of trying to dominate and exploit nature without considering the consequences, humans live alongside it in symbiosis.

🔄 Circularity: The motto of a solarpunk society is reduce, reuse, recycle. Solarpunks reject our current capitalistic system; instead, they embrace the idea of a circular economy wherein we treat our resources as finite, and use them sparingly, intelligently, and regeneratively.

🤝 Cooperation: Solarpunks are strong believers in the power of community and collaboration. Accordingly, decentralized power, fair access to knowledge and resources, and social equality are all key features of a solarpunk society.

🌞 Optimism: A resilient sense of optimism is one of the most important parts of a solarpunk outlook. Solarpunks reject doomism and instead emphasize our individual and collective potential to change our future for the better.

While these tenets are definitely inspired by the images created by the OG solarpunk community, they are also largely informed by existing climate solutions and the recommendations of environmental experts.

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Solarpunk Explained - Wildgrid Home
Art by Vincent Callebaut via

What is punk about solarpunk?

“There’s nothing punk about solarpunk.” -Boomers who have figured out how to use the internet.

You could probably write off the use of the suffix “punk” in solarpunk as nothing more than a cheeky little nod to its original antitheses: steampunk and cyberpunk. 🤪

But if you think about it, solarpunk is actually totally punk. It’s anti-establishment, anti-consumerism, anti-corporate-greed and anti-oppression. It’s pro-action and pro-equality. It’s an act of radical rebellion against a shitty world, just with a little less “fuck you” and a little more sunshine. ☀️

Solarpunk Explained - Wildgrid Home
Art by Damian Krzywonos via

The biggest thing that differentiates punk from solarpunk is a difference in attitude. Instead of being rooted in pessimism and individualism like traditional punk subculture, the solarpunk movement is founded on optimism and teamwork. 💪

Also, instead of sporting leather jackets, hardcore solarpunks probably wear thrifted hemp pants or something like that.

Want to help create a solarpunkified world? Check out Wildgrid’s new planning tool to help you go solar and electrify your home — it’s free!

Solarpunk Explained - Wildgrid Home

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