Self-Sufficient Living: How to Become Self-Sufficient (and Why You Probably Shouldn't)
Categories: Life Stories
Self-sufficient living is the ability and practice of providing for all of your own needs and the needs of your household without outside aid or resources. It relies on a myriad of knowledge and skills, as well as a spirit of independence and motivation. Its attempt is certainly not for everyone, but those who choose it tend to be passionate about their reasons.
"Freedom is the greatest fruit of self-sufficiency." - Epicurus
Reasons For Self-Sufficiency
Here are the common reasons why a person may choose to live self-sufficiently:
- Preparedness: This is generally the main reason for self-sufficiency. A person feels the desire to be prepared for potential catastrophes, an end to cheap oil, or any political threats. Preparedness may also be a religious mandate. Learning how to become self-sufficient offers peace-of-mind and security in the event of a disaster.
- Political: The stereotype is of a conspiracy-theorist that wants to "stick it to the man" by disappearing off the grid. That's usually not the case. Instead, most people see the real corruption in unconstitutional wars and powerful lobbyists and distrust the government to escape from its current political stature unscathed. Whatever comes down the road, they wish to be independent of assistance or oversight from shaky government agencies.
- Social: A self-sufficient person may see the flaws within our current social structure. They may see that the food infrastructure relies too heavily on corn and long distance growers, and wish to not be a part of that unhealthy system. And they likely disagree with our cultural habit of over-consumption and waste. Learning how to become self-sufficient gives them a way to feel connected within a disconnected society.
- Personal: Perhaps the simplest explanation for self-sufficiency is the personal satisfaction one gains from the lifestyle. Many people enjoy the practice of growing their own food and the accomplishment of learning something new. They may enjoy raising animals or building their home. And they likely take pride in providing for their family independently. For them it's about living a satisfying life, working hard and going to bed tired and fulfilled.
- Environmental: A growing trend is the mitigation of environmental degradation through self-sufficient living. Your carbon footprint is diminished when your food is not shipped from around the world, your waste is reduced to almost nothing and your home is not powered by coal. You are prepared for environmental emergencies, changing political landscapes, and a breakdown in infrastructure with the coming climate changes. And you can take personal pride in your positive effects while also inspiring those around you.
How to Become Self-Sufficient
There is no definitive guide on how to become self-sufficient. Instead of specific steps, it's more important that you change the way you look at and think about your actions and dependency and seek alternatives in each area. Here are some areas to consider first:
- Career: Your job should be the first area you consider. Look at your employer, their main client base and the longevity of their services or products. Is your career dependent on a robust economy or cheap oil? Is it dispensable, especially when times get tough?
- Self-education and self-employment: Learning many skills that can diversify your income is important. Self-employment in a sustainable field is also a popular choice. Think about basic needs and worse case scenarios and decide what will be needed most: Food, shelter, clothing, repairs, and health care for humans and animals (especially alternative health care) all top the list. Diversify your skills and knowledge-base, change your career if necessary and ensure your future security.
- Debt-Free: Debt has a serious crippling effect on self-sufficient living. Working toward financial freedom from debt is crucial for real self-sufficiency.
- Housing: Shelter is a necessity. The location of your home is also very important. Do you have the yard and garden space you need (at least a quarter acre per person for truly self-sufficient living)? Are your laws friendly toward the addition of solar or wind energy? Can you drill your own well? These are all important things to consider when considering sustainable housing.
- Food: Start by researching where your food comes from and how it affects your health. Is your diet healthy, whole and balanced? To live fully self-sufficiently, you'll need to produce your own food. This means installing an annual garden, planting trees or shrubs for perennial fruits, raising your own animals for milk, eggs or meat, savings seeds, canning excess garden yields, learning to fertilize sustainably and even doing your own butchering.
- Transportation: If your driving habits are accustomed to cheap oil, it may be time to look for real alternatives. This is where real self-sufficient living gets tough. Unless you own an oil field or propane company, chances are the only way you'll reach full self-sufficiency is to forego automobiles and opt for animal transport, bicycling, or walking. Until you're ready to go this hard core, you can look into carpooling, car shares, or public transit to wean yourself off cheap oil.
- Other: There are a hundred smaller and simpler things to consider when moving towards self-sufficient living. Some things, like cast iron cookware will last you a lifetime or longer, while other things like clothing will need regular repair or replacement. Learning how to make things last, buy real quality items, make repairs or do without is important. Some things to consider as you get started: shaving, composting toilets, home haircuts, sewing, hunting and fishing, homebirthing, homeschooling, and home cooking to name a few.