The Self-Sufficient Lifestyle
101 DIY Advices With Stacked Stone Tile
Self-sufficient living is a highly complementary practice-once you begin, you’ll find that many parts of your home are connected, and that multiple systems of self-sufficiency contribute to one another, often corresponding with the natural cycles of the earth. Because of this interconnectedness, many of the projects in this book will naturally lead you to more and more projects that will help you maximize your self-sufficiency work.
For example, if you start a garden, the fruits and vegetables you grow will provide waste that will transform into the compost that will nurture next year’s bounty. Setting up a rainwater collection system not only reduces your reliance on public utilities, the fresh, soft water will help your plants grow healthy. The hens you are raising for their eggs control garden pests and provide free fertilizer. At the end of the growing season, you’ll likely be overwhelmed with vegetables, and will need to find a means to store and preserve them-perhaps a basement root cellar could be a good option. And, by growing organic vegetables nurtured by compost and animal manure, you create a pesticide-free habitat for honeybees to prosper, while they, in turn, pollinate the plant life.
That said, you do not need to take on all the projects in this book at once. Start with the projects that naturally supplement the efforts your family is already making toward self-sufficiency. If you already recycle, a natural next step is to build compost bins and begin to make compost with food and paper waste as well. If you already maintain a beautiful flower garden, why not build a home for the honeybees that are already frequent visitors, allowing you to collect the honey they produce? If you need to connect electricity to an outbuilding or shed that is not currently grid-connected, why not install solar panels instead of wiring the building into the grid? If you already garden, why not build a greenhouse?
For the newcomer, the projects on the following pages provide multiple opportunities to create a more self-reliant lifestyle. For the experienced self-sufficient homeowner, the step-by-step projects included here will provide you with the means to expand and streamline your efforts.
Efficiency, Conservation & Recycling
If increased self-sufficiency is your goal, paying attention to the efficiency with which you use your resources is common sense. For example, if your goal is to use solar-heated air to heat all or part of your home, it makes sense that you want every bit of the heat your solar panels produce to contribute to the temperature of the room, instead of being lost through drafty windows or poorly insulated walls. Investing in energy-efficient windows and doors and properly insulating your home is a very important step in the implementation of an alternate or supplementary heating system.
If one of the goals of your self-sufficient lifestyle is to decrease your utility bills, a key first step that is often overlooked is resource conservation, which can make a huge and immediate impact on your utility bills . For example, before you invest in a gray water recycling system or install a cistern for rainwater collection to lessen your dependence on water provided by utility companies, coach your family in water conservation practices. Run the dishwasher only when it is full, wash only full loads of laundry, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and focus on taking shorter, more efficient showers.
Increasing your own awareness of how to reuse the objects around you to benefit your self-sufficient living projects will also contribute to your success as a self-sufficient homeowner. If you plan to start your own seedlings each year, you’ll need planting containers. Why not reuse plastic yogurt cups or other food containers you’ve already used instead of purchasing new containers? One of the nuggets of wisdom modem self-reliant homeowners must adopt is that objects do not need to be as disposable as we are led to believe. Find a way to repurpose the objects you buy, compost paper and food waste, and ensure that your tools, buildings and appliances are properly maintained to ensure that they enjoy a long and useful life in your home.
A key factor in finding your starting point is to develop an understanding of your goals as a self-sufficient homeowner. Selfsufficiency can contribute to many different aspects of your family’s lifestyle. So before you plot out your projects, consider the tenets of self-sufficiency, as described below, and define what being self-sufficient means to you.
Producing Your Own Food: This is unquestionably the most involved aspect of a self-sufficient lifestyle for many homeowners -urban, suburban, and rural. Consider how food production and storage can ft into your home, whether you plan to start a garden or build a greenhouse, raise chickens and other small animals, build a root cellar for winter produce storage, or raise honeybees.
Saving on Utility Costs: Independence from local energy sources is another major draw for self-reliance enthusiasts. Whether you seek independence from utility companies because of prohibitive costs, unreliable service, or your own desire to live off the grid, many of the projects in this book can help you take first steps to get there. Bear in mind, however, that many energy- or utilityproduction systems do require a significant financial investment in the beginning, but will pay for themselves within the first ten years of use.
Producing Clean Energy: Many self-sufficient homeowners are more motivated by their desire to produce energy for their homes with little or no impact on the environment than they are by utility company bills. Producing non-polluting, renewable energy is increasingly achievable for residential homeowners as technological advances make the necessary equipment affordable, accessible, and easy to install.
Conserving Resources and Creating Less Waste: Conserving the earth’s resources and minimizing waste is a practice that goes hand-in-hand with a self-sufficient lifestyle.