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We all hear the term thrown around, but what does it really mean? Is there one definition that fits everyone? Well, if you ask me, no. There is not just one definition of self-sufficiency that fits right across the board.
But what could self-sufficiency mean for you, right where you are? It could mean a lot of different things. Which is what I’m wanting to explore and explain to you through this post.
So let’s walk through what self-sufficiency is and what it could mean for you.
• Make Your House Work for You
When you decide to embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, you have to let go of a lot of modern thinking. One of the modern ways of thinking is housing. You live in one house for a while, then you sell it for a bigger house. Most people do this quite a few times over their life.
Embark sustainable methods at home to be environment friendly. Use different sorts of paper to write like the back side of enclosed envelopes, plain back side of advertisement sheets and others. Optimum utilisation of water and electricity starts from home.
• Be Frugal
Practice financial discipline by making a commitment to frugality. Forgoing luxuries, such as satellite TV and smartphone service, allows us to live below our means. We’ve never owned a new car or carried a balance on our credit card.
Why rent a movie when you can get it free from the library? “Shop” at clothing swaps, where you drop off the clothes your children have outgrown while picking up something new for yourself. We chop cords off firewood with neighbours and enjoy cooking with our Sun Oven solar cooker. The combined savings from these creative ways to share and use free resources, along with our food and energy production, allowed us to pay off our mortgage.
• Get Back to Basics
Start by focusing on survival and sustenance. Six main spheres guide our approach to self-sufficient living: water, shelter, food, energy (including transportation), finances and community (including entertainment). The spheres you decide to work on first will be based on your situation, passions, unique skills and finances. We all have limitations to achieving total self-reliance — but after you know your limits, you can strive to transform them into possibilities.
We chose to immediately adopt what came easiest, such as line-drying our laundry, or what offered the fastest payback, such as switching to more efficient appliances. Our back-to-basics start set the stage for taking more challenging steps later on that involved larger investments of both time and money. Assess what you already have that could serve your goals. For example, we knew our south-facing rooftop was well-suited for a solar thermal system, so we factored this asset into our plan to heat our domestic water.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is crucial to providing the vitamins, minerals, and delicious flavours that make dinner something to savour. If you haven’t done it, start gardening now — no matter how much a novice you are — and learn how to manage your plants, rotate crops, and fight the pests local to your area.
Once you get your fingernails dirty, it’s time to look at refining your garden practices. If you can’t rake in a harvest without using fertilisers and pesticides from the store including “organic fertiliser” or natural pest-deterrents you’ve found a red flag on your journey to self-sufficiency.
• Never Have A Pity-Me Mentality
Deciding to start the journey of self-sufficiency should have the same feeling as an adventurer setting out into unknown territory. It is full of excitement, anticipation, and maybe a little trepidation, but mostly brave-eyed exploration. No one is forcing you on this journey. It should be an intrinsic desire to live better, more meaningfully, less wastefully, less dependently, and so on.
Learning how to produce what you need and want shouldn’t be a drudge and ordeal. Here’s an example; Last year, I decided to quit coffee which is something I truly did like, but I knew I couldn’t grow it, so I decided it wasn’t worth it. This didn’t mean I wasn’t allowed to have delicious drinks: finding our acorn-chicory alternative was such a fun, enjoyable process for my family, that there was no reason to complain!
Eliminating the concept of waste and seeing it as a resource, being able to waste something, toss it in the trash, or flush away what you don’t want to deal with, is a consumerist privilege taken by those who are decidedly not seeking self-sufficiency. In a nutrient cycle of a self-sufficient homestead, there is essentially no waste. Everything is a nutrient that just needs to be put into the next step of the process. To waste “waste” is a waste!