You may think that buying what you need is good, as long as you have stores and money. This view is rather short sighted because it does not take into consideration one thing: it is not self sustaining. It also makes for a lifestyle that is centers on reliance on others instead of self reliance. This is dangerous on a few levels, the biggest being what would happen if all those convenient stores were to suddenly shut down? Most city dwellers would be unable to keep themselves alive.
Is this the legacy you want to leave your children?
Living a self sustaining and self reliant lifestyle is not something you can just suddenly start doing. Most of us do not have the skills necessary to live, even partially, without the convenience of stores to provide for our needs. If you want to change your life in the direction of self reliance, you must do so purposefully and with a plan. When I realized this, I sat down and wrote these 6 steps to start living in a more self sustaining and self reliant way.
1. Limit Buying Things New - When buying something, ask yourself "Do I need a new _________ or can I buy it used? Buying things used not only cuts down on the energy spent manufacturing, shipping and handling new items, it is also cheaper and it helps out the person you are purchasing it from.
2. Reduce the Waste That We Create - This is especially important if the waste is plastic. Avoid buying items that are packaged in plastic. Try to avoid items that are encased in styrofoam. You can accomplish this in the grocery store by buying organic and by making sure that you always bring your own reusable bags.
3. Limit or Cut Out Processed Foods - This is good for you as well as the environment. Processed foods like chips, crackers and single serving type foods are almost always in plastic containers and are high in salt, sugar, fat and calories. Reducing the amount of these unhealthy foods is not only good for you, it is good for the environment, just that much less plastic in landfills or thrown in the ocean. Make it a habit to shop at local farmers markets or to buy from local roadside stands. This benefits everyone, and you can bet there will be a lot less pesticides on what you buy.
4. Try to Re-Purpose Everything at Least Once Before You Toss or Recycle It - Cut down that shoe box and use it as a drawer organizer. Poke holes in the bottom of that coffee can and use it as a planter. Save the glass jars that mayonnaise and salad dressing come in and make your own to re-fill them. Paint that table instead of throwing it away. For every item that you re-purpose, you are saving money and helping the environment.
5. Learn to Cook From Scratch and Don't Waste Food - The items you cook will be much healthier with less additives and preservatives. Any food left over should be reworked into the meals of the next day, so the food will not be wasted. You will save a lot of money by eating at home instead of going out to eat and also by cooking food instead of buying the more expensive and plastic encased preprocessed food.
And Most Important is .......
6. Learn to Do Things Yourself - This covers everything in your life from learning out to sew on a button, to painting your own house. Learn new skills that will make you less reliant on others to get things done. Home improvement stores regularly have free classes, so go to some! If you learn how to do something for yourself, that is something no one can ever take away from you. One of the best things you can do with any new skill that you learn is to teach it to someone else!
Converting your lifestyle from that of a consumer to something more self sustaining cannot be done overnight. It takes a plan and a concentrated effort. A more thoughtful way of living is essential. Instead of just numbly working and buying, working and buying, you must think about the things you do and how best to do them so that you can depend less on others and more on yourself.
Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone would adopt and implement these steps?
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