Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday's musings - Jumping off the grid

There's a part of me that longs to jump off the grid - to be part of a small community somewhere, living off the land, generating our own power, growing our own produce and livestock, making our own cheese, milling our own wheat. These things appeal to me. Which is good because I expect at some point we're all going to have to look to alternative ways of living, mainly because our current lifestyle is unsustainable.

In some ways this is a great age to live in, because our way of life hasn't collapsed yet, but we have the knowledge and power to make major changes that will in a best-case scenario prevent the fall, or at the very least ease our transition when it does happen.

What can we do from our suburban homes?

  • Learn the lost arts: Make time to learn how to do the things that have been taken over by large-scale industrial plants, eg. knitting, sewing, weaving, building, welding, carpentry, mechanics, cheesemaking, milling, baking, preserving, and making cleaning and beauty products. You might find some new hobbies to enjoy, and you'll become more self-sufficient to boot.
  • Garden organically: Gardens protect the biodiversity of our soil, plant, insect and bird life. They also dramatically reduce the petroleum inputs going into our produce - from ridiculously high - to nil. 
  • Shop at farmers' markets: Support the people in your local communities who are growing food. This is another great way to bring petroleum inputs down - not as effectively as gardening at home, but a lot more than shopping at supermarkets and chain stores that distribute nationwide and often import food from the other side of the world.
  • Buy (or grow) whole foods: Invest in a grain mill and learn how to process whole grains, seeds and nuts yourself. You'll not only cut out the processing middle man, but you'll also see added health benefits, since your food will be fresh and won't be full of toxic preservatives.
  • Buy homekill meat: Support hobby farmers who are raising a few different animals and plants on a small plot of land. As well as seeing the profits go straight to them, this will also (you've guessed it) reduce the petroleum inputs required to manage a large scale farm, process and package the meat from that farm and ship it around the country. Buying a side of beef will save you money and see you using more parts of the cow, so it's less wasteful on the whole. 
  • Buy raw milk from a local dairy farmer: As well as getting the benefits of nutritious whole milk, you will simplify the transaction, taking out the processing middle man so all the profits go right back to the dairy farmer. If a group of you gets together to do this, you can either arrange to have the milk delivered straight to one person's home each week, or your group can rotate who will drive out to the farm to pick up the milk.
  • Keep chickens: You don't need a large yard to keep chickens, and they will eat your leftover food scraps and provide you with beautifully rich eggs in return. They're also fun for children to play with and you can get the kids involved feeding them and collecting the eggs, thus teaching them responsibility from a young age.
  • Compost and/or keep a worm farm: What a great way to recycle your kitchen waste and enrich your soil at the same time. Vegetable scraps boiling away in black plastic bags at the dump create greenhouse gases, whereas those same scraps cooking away in a compost bin will enrich the soil and plants they come into contact with. I like the term 'black gold' for compost.
  • Find new uses for things rather than throwing them out. Empty bottles, jars and spray containers are so useful for storing food and homemade cleaning products. I've been amazed at all the uses I've found for my so-called 'rubbish'.

I'm sure this isn't an extensive list, these are just the things I've been thinking about and trying to implement. I would love to hear what others are doing to live more sustainably.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic tips on what we can do while trapped in the rat race. Thankfully, I am already doing many of those things but like you I would love to escape the consumer society we are in and live among like minded people sharing skills and resources. Not that I like the idea of a commune (sp)either.


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