Are you preparing for the zombie apocalypse? I’m kidding about the zombies, of course, but one part of the question is valid. Are you prepared to be completely self-sufficient should the need arise? If the world’s infrastructure suddenly collapsed and we were all left to fend for ourselves, most of us would be in big trouble.
For most people, the idea of leading a self-sufficient lifestyle is little more than a pipe dream that would be almost impossible to achieve.
Keep in mind that self-sufficiency has a number of meanings and levels. On its face, it means surviving and making a living entirely via your own means. But how many of us are equipped to take on that challenge?
If you’re not ready for that level of commitment, you can start with what works for you. Here are some of the ways you can begin to lead a more self-sufficient life.
Growing your dinner
It’s an embarrassing fact that 22% of adults don’t even know that bacon and sausages originate from farms. It’s probably safe to say that this particular section of the population is unlikely to work toward self-sufficiency but there are still many who at least harbour the green dream.
A great starting point for working toward self-sufficiency is feeding yourself. At the highest level, this will mean growing your own fruit and vegetables and raising livestock as a source of milk, eggs and even meat. But at least at first, you can start an herb garden. Gradually expand and add staple crops like tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, all of which you can grow in a container even if you don’t have a huge plot of land to plant.
According to figures from the Horticultural Trades Association, about half of all garden owners intend to or currently grow their own fruit and vegetables. So it at least appears some of us are acquiring one of the basic skills needed for self-sufficiency.
Meeting your energy needs
Although you could argue that many of the things that we use electricity for would no longer be required if we were truly self-sufficient, that does not mean that you would have to give up using electricity completely. You can look at a number of alternative options to generate power for essentials such as heating and lighting.
Solar power would be well worth considering, and you don’t have to live in a particularly sunny climate to generate a significant amount of electricity. Plus, there are government programs, like Britain’s Green Deal, in place to help defray some of the startup cost.
Still, you may want to stay connected to your local power grid. If you produce enough energy, you could make some extra money by selling your surplus electricity to your local power company.
And if you live in a windy are, then wind power is also an option that is well worth considering. There are mini-turbines that you can attach to your roof or larger models that can be positioned in your garden or backyard if you have the space for it. It’s also worth considering investing in more than just one turbine if you can afford it, as again you could generate income from the excess electricity you sell back to the grid.
Still, producing your own food and electricity are admittedly higher-level goals. Perhaps the happy medium for a lot of us, who don’t have the skills or the startup funds necessary to become completely self-sufficient, is to find some ways to improve our energy-efficiency and grow as much of our own produce as possible.
Self-sufficiency could mean being able to run your household and raise your family without the need for any external financial support, or it could mean starting a small garden so you’ll know where at least some of your food comes from. It could mean working to lower your household costs by switching to a more suitable energy tariff and eliminating waste or switching to more economical supermarket. Take the opportunity to review how you power your home and what simple adjustments you could make to reduce your energy and food dependence.
Being completely self-sufficient is probably still just a dream for most of us, but there are still plenty of small steps you can take toward that goal.
Ian Clay’s primary focus is domestic energy concerns. After years of leading teams of scientists, he enjoys blogging about his insights and innovative solutions in the energy sector for the modern household.