What does it mean to live a life more sustainably in the context of homesteading? I believe the answer changes and shifts, evolves like we do as human beings and varies for each one of us depending on life circumstance and resources available.
I would like to write a little bit about my thoughts concerning sustainability and share ideas I have implemented as part of my sustainable homesteading practice. I recognize that we are dependent on nature, we are all interconnected, and we have to live a life style more sustainable, one that uses as few resources as possible and causes the least amount of environmental damage for future generations.
Developing a sustainable lifestyle, becoming a sustainable homesteader takes time and practice. I see myself on a path, doing little bits at a time, more simple here, less spending there. I am learning about my habituation and conditioning when it comes to wants vs. needs, when my sneaky consumer mind is trying to trick me into buying things I really don’t need.
My desire to live in natural balance and respectful symbiotic relationship with the earth stems from a place of deep love, appreciation, respect, and care for nature. Nature has always been my place of refuge. She has held me during times of trouble, supported me while experiencing deep grief and aloneness, and has brought endless hours of joy, gratitude, and deep love for life. I bow deeply before her and my days out in nature are filled with little and big moments of gratitude.
I have always trusted the deep silence when being out in the woods, felt nourished by the soil touching my hands while planting and harvesting, and knew that no matter where I am or how I feel I can come home to mother Earth. Creating a sustainable homestead brings health and healing to our bodies and minds, to our community, to the earth, and future generations.
Sustainable homesteading requires mindfulness and awareness. Mindfulness is a state of open presence, a way of truly being in the moment, right here, in your garden, cleaning up the chicken coop, canning the fruits of summer, listening to the wind and the earth. Mindfulness allows me to appreciate the earth in her fullest beauty; rejoice in those little things, a butterfly and a baby chick, a tomato stretching her head toward the sun, an apple blossom, and dandelion. We have cut ourselves off from the nourishment dark fertile soil can offer us, from the birds singing their song, from the taste of beets right off the field. We are nature deprived, touch deprived, homesteading deprived.
My intent is to homestead in a way that mirrors the natural world, a world within which nothing goes to waste. Sustainable homesteading means finding my place within the natural world, knowing that I am part of and responsible for all my actions and non-actions and their impact of the planet.
Homesteading in a more sustainable way evolves and changes as we develop as human beings and yet I do believe that there are guiding principles, timeless wisdom which most of us can follow. Here are my current guidelines:
- Live more simply
- Produce more and consume less
- Consider the earth’s limited resources and live within that parameter
- Chose a lifestyle that reflects our responsibility for the generations to come
- Take care of Mother Earth so that she can keep giving to us as generously as she has
- Re-consider what Quality of life really means
- Create and live in community
- Use and produce renewable energy
Living more sustainably requires for me to be awake and aware of my habits, conditioning, and beliefs. Living in greater harmony with the earth, using resources respectfully and aware is not always convenient. If you believe as I do, that we are all interconnected, every lifestyle choice and decision has an impact on all of us. I am far from being the perfect sustainable homesteader. I am leaving a carbon footprint and at times make decisions that are not considering greater health and healing. I try to be more awake, I try to catch myself when I get lazy in my choices, and surround myself with friends and community for whom healing nature is as dear to their hearts as it is to mine.
So, what does sustainable homesteading look like? I would to share some of the things I do on my homestead to live a life more sustainable. I am on a path of less waste, more joy, less plastic, and greater wisdom. Living this way does not feel like I am depriving myself; quite the opposite, the more I stay true to my beliefs the more freedom and happiness I experience. Consuming less does not feel like an unwanted diet but more like a healthy detox of my mind, a letting go of unconscious habits.
Here are a few things I do, in no particular order:
Sustainable and Renewable Energy
- I line dry my clothes, always. In the summer outside, in the winter inside.
- I don’t own a TV and don’t miss it.
- I own energy efficient products such as the laundry machine or dishwasher.
- The obvious: I turn off lights when I am not in the room.
- I use solar power and my well supplies me with plenty of fresh water.
- I live in a passive solar house and feel blessed that I do.
DIY and Fix Stuff
- I repair my belongings; I sew, glue, and fix.
- I make some of my own cleaning supplies. The orange-cinnamon-cloves-vinegar is one of my favorites.
- I preserve, dehydrate, and freeze fruits and vegetables that are in season and enjoy those during off-season.
- I don’t get my coffee/latter/chai at the coffee shop but make it at home, unless there is a special occasion.
- I ask for help when I don’t know how to build or fix something.
- I read manuals and learn by trial and error.
Sustainability and Money
- I use coupons and buy things when on sale.
- Know how to fix a lot of things and take good care of what I own.
- I buy high quality products and keep them forever.
- I am really looking at my habits, needs vs wants.
- I gather what is free – pinecones and my neighbor’s newspaper for fire starters.
- I look for used and free on community resources like craigslist.
- I rather wait for what I really want than buy the cheaper version right now.
- I invest in the land I live on.
- I make my own lunch.
Less Waste, Less Plastic
- I buy laundry and dish washer detergent in cardboard boxes, not plastic bottles.
- I avoid one-time use items (paper towels, napkins, tin foil, and shrink wrap) but use clothes napkins and clothes rags.
- I don’t use plastic tupperware or cutlery but glass containers and reusable bamboo cutlery.
- I buy bulk and bring my own bags to put it in.
- I don’t buy bottled water.
- If I get a catalogue in the mail, I call and ask to be taken off their mailing list.
- I bring my own shopping bags.
- I buy in bulk, as much as I can; from grains to castile soap and dog food.
- I buy locally whenever possible and get my meat and my raw milk from a local farm who raises their cows 100% on pasture.
- I cook from scratch, almost always.
- I started making my own chicken feed.
Sustainable Land use, in Harmony with the Land
- I implement principles of permaculture on my land.
- I grow a large portion of my food and am planning to extent my garden this year.
- I have an orchard which provides me with wonderful fruit, berry bushes, and nut trees.
- I cut and split trees for firewood; we have an abundance of beetle kill trees which need to be cut and taken out of the forest to minimize the risk of wild fires.
- I eat organic, grow organic, and feed organic.
- I use natural and environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and recycled products.
- I forage during the summer months and include wild edibles into my meals.
- I get eggs and meat from my own chickens.
- I compost and recycle.
- I make much of my medicine from wild-harvested herbs.
Sustainability and Self Care
- I don’t get uptight about living more simply and sustainably.
- I try to remember that joy and happiness really comes from a place of passion not guilt.
- I treat myself to nice things.
- I spend quality time with friends, and time doing things I love: hiking with my dogs, yoga, traditional archery, pottery, and reading.
- I practice mindfulness throughout the day and find happiness in moments of quiet and simple delight
- I work hard physically but rest well and sleep A LOT.
- I take breaks and look at the sky.
- I feed myself well and listen to my body’s natural limits.
I am certain this list will change and evolve over the years to come. Please, if you would like to add something, inspire me and leave a comment. I would love for all of us to be part of a life more simple and sustainable.
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