As humanity faces unprecedented environmental challenges, society is turning to environmentalism and sustainability to decrease its environmental impact.
While not everyone can live 100% “off-the-grid,” as this lifestyle is often referred to, there are self-sustainability living ideas we can adopt and incorporate into our daily lives.
Here, we discuss self-sustainable living, the benefits, the challenges, and some great ideas to get you started in this environmentally friendly lifestyle.
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What is Self Sustainable Living?
Being self-sustainable, also called self-sustainability or self-sufficiency, is the ability to support oneself without depending on others.
In self-sustainable living, nothing is consumed other than what the self-sufficient individual produces. The independent individual is enough to fulfill their own needs indefinitely.
Self-sufficient individuals provide food, water, shelter, and energy for themselves in order to live autonomously.
Benefits of Self Sustainable Living
- Individuals who adopt a self-sustainable lifestyle are believed to experience improved physical and mental health. As they abandon consumerism, self-sufficient individuals face less stress due to their simple living lifestyle. Additionally, the physical demands of making everything one consumes can lead to improved health.
- Self-sustainable living reduces the individual’s carbon footprint since they no longer rely on fossil fuels to meet all of their needs. Additionally, it helps preserve the environment and natural resources.
- Self-sustainable living helps save money on food, water, energy, and even clothing.
- Although self-sustainability focuses on individuals being able to support themselves, this lifestyle promotes a sense of community and cooperation among other like-minded self-sufficiency-seeking individuals.
As a community, individuals help each other reach their self-sustainable lifestyle by sharing their knowledge or bartering for things they’ve made or grown.
Challenges in Making a Self Sustainable Living
- Achieving 100% self-sufficiency in this modern age can be challenging. Limited space and resources can pose a challenge when trying to be self-sufficient. With some planning and organization, however, you can find ways to be self-sufficient in all areas of life as you slowly reach your self-sustainable living goals. It is not necessary to make drastic changes. Focusing on one area at a time may prove the most productive.
- Finding reliable information can also be a challenge. For this reason, having a community of like-minded individuals can be invaluable for sharing and learning from each other.
- Having enough physical resources can be challenging when adopting some of the self-sustainability concepts.
15 Self Sustainable Living Ideas:
1. Grow Your Produce
Growing your fruits, vegetables, and herbs gives you a hands-on connection to the food that will nurture your body. And it allows you to decide what goes into your food.
It also allows you to break away from a fragile food system and keeps you from relying on others for one of your most basic needs.
Whether you live in a small apartment or have a farm on the outskirts of town, anyone can grow something.
You can keep a few pots with herbs in your kitchen, by a window, or on a small balcony. You can also join a local community garden. You’ll enjoy fresh produce while getting to know other like-minded people.
Educate yourself on plants, their life cycles, and their requirements. Visit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website to learn about hardiness zones.
2. Learn to Preserve Your Food
Once you harvest your bounty, you’ll likely have more produce than you can eat. Preserve excess produce by freezing, canning, dehydrating, or fermenting it.
In true slow-living fashion, you’ll require time, knowledge, and practice to figure out all the kinks of food preservation.
Once you do, you’ll have plenty of food for the future or to barter with fellow self-sufficient enthusiasts.
3. Learn to Cook from Scratch
Cooking from scratch will make you less dependent on store-bought food and save you money.
Additionally, cooking your food at home allows you to control the taste and the ingredients you use, making for healthier options.
Like preserving your food, cooking from scratch takes time, learning, experience, and patience.
It also provides a great bonding experience with your family.
4. Make Dairy Foods
You can make your butter, cheese, and yogurt at home. Each dairy item will require a different process; you must educate yourself and be patient.
However, nothing can be more fulfilling than making your dairy products and watching them go from cattle to the table.
Pregnant women and young children should not consume unpasteurized dairy products.
5. Raise Chickens
Many people who start with self-sustainability choose chickens as their first animal because they are fairly easy to care for.
Although it does take time and commitment, raising chickens is pretty straightforward. You can feed them kitchen scraps, and they can eat weeds and bugs from your garden.
By raising chickens, you will potentially have fresh eggs and meat all year. Also, keeping chickens will save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
More importantly, your children can help feed the chickens and learn the rewards of hard work and where their food comes from.
Keep in mind, however, local laws and zoning restrictions depend on where you live. While chickens do not require vast pieces of land, you need to account for a chicken coup and enough room for them to roam.
6. Keep Livestock
Goats can provide delicious, nutritious milk, and you can raise pigs for the meat.
However, remember that livestock requires more land and resources than raising chickens.
7. Keep Bees
Although you may need special training and preparations to keep bees on your property, they can be suitable for pollinating your garden.
Additionally, they can provide you with fresh honey, and you can use the beeswax to make candles.
Now, who doesn’t like that?
8. Learn to Hunt and Fish
Hunting and fishing your meat and fish from the wild is essential to following a self-sustainable lifestyle.
Learning to do so will allow you to be less dependent on the fragile supply chain and give you a sense of pride.
Additionally, red meat production typically carries with it a high carbon footprint. Hunting your meat ensures you are contributing to your carbon footprint reduction.
You must, however, check local laws for possible training and licensing requirements.
9. Learn to Butcher and Clean Fish
If you’re going to hunt and fish, learning to butcher and clean your catch correctly is a must. This will let you know where the animal originated and how it was ultimately handled.
It will also ensure there will be no opportunities for mix-ups at the butcher shop.
10. Forage Food
Finding food in the wild and identifying edible plants and poisonous ones can be a convenient skill.
Edible plants can be used for cooking, medicinal purposes, or to enjoy as teas.
Grab yourself a good plant book, and go identify some plants!
11. Hand-Wash Your Clothes
This is a task anyone can do. Stop using your high-energy-consuming washing machine to wash clothes and dry your clothes on a line or a rack. By doing so, you will be protecting the environment as you lower your carbon footprint.
You will also be extending the life of your clothes, saving money by not running the dryer, and preserving your wardrobe longer.
12. Learn to Sew and Knit
Sewing by hand or machine is becoming a lost art. It is a beautiful skill to have as you can mend any textile instead of discarding it and sending it to the landfill.
As you mend items, you give them new life and prevent them from purchasing yet another unnecessary item.
Knitting and crocheting are also valuable skills since you can make gloves, hats, scarves, and blankets for the winter months.
Indeed, your imagination is the limit to what you can create with these nearly extinct skills.
13. Secure Water
Knowing how to secure a safe, reliable water source is one of the essential skills to have as a self-sufficient individual.
We all need water to live. Therefore, installing a solar-powered well or rain barrels is essential for living “off-the-grid.” Having an alternate water source to municipal water will also save you money.
Rainwater can be used in the garden to bathe and wash dishes and clothing. However, be sure to filter and boil rainwater before drinking it.
14. Try Making Compost
Making compost is a great way to use kitchen scraps, newspapers, and grass clippings, dramatically reducing the need for fertilizers. Be careful not to use any animal products, grease, oils, or infected plants when making compost.
Although compost production can be very forgiving, educating yourself on the science of the compost-making process, even on a small scale, can be helpful.
Furthermore, if you have your own veggie garden, producing compost at home makes everything go full circle.
For those with limited space, vermicompost can be an easy alternative to compost production.
15. Use Renewable Energy Sources
Another important aspect of living self-sustainably is using renewable energy sources, whether solar power, natural gas, coal, hydropower, or wind.
Not only will it save you money, but it will contribute to your carbon footprint reduction.
Final Thoughts on Self Sustainable Living
Self-sustainable living is not about making drastic changes or living isolated from the world. It is about providing yourself with your basic needs and making small, everyday choices that together can significantly impact your life and the environment.
Living smaller and needing less is the goal of being self-sufficient. As you embrace this lifestyle, your focus will go from consumerism and materialism to nurturing relationships and the environment while creating memories, experiences, and connections.
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