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Saturday, May 28, 2011

How Self-Sufficient can you ACTUALLY be???

Ok so we like self-sufficiency. Different people have different reasons for chasing the dream, anything from saving money, to not being reliant on anyone else, simple pleasure in DIY, living simply, living cleanly (avoiding all those hormone-screwing, toxifying, health-destroying chemicals used these days), being eco-responsible, and more. Why do you do it??

Now the idea appeals, for all the above reasons, but how self-sufficient is it actually possible to be these days???

On different occasions I've made long lists detailing everything we can do in our home to be self-sufficient - generally in order to save money. Since I tend to make these lists when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed, stressed out, unmotivated and financially cracked the lists are unreadable and written on whatever scrap paper I can get my hands on and invariably make their way into the fire. I do have those ideas floating around in my head though and I thought I'd pop as comprehensive list as I could on here incase it gave you (or me) any new ideas or just plain motivation! I decided to break it into levels since obviously if you're renting its not possible to put in a whole new solar power system for example ;) Heres what I came up with for people who either don't have much money, don't want to spend much money, don't want to do alot of tripping around to find different ingredients, etc or do too much re-vamping to their home. I do or have done all of these things and don't find it adds much if anything to my workload. Bread is probably the most timeconsuming job in my home, and no I don't find that I have a heck of lot more washing to worry about. I subscribe to the old-fashioned rule of if you can spot clean it, don't put it through the machine (in regards to our clothes) and we have approximately 1.5 loads every 2 days during winter. FYI its impossible to spot clean anything worn by anybody under 5 (possibly over but I haven't got parental experience in that age group yet lol) during outside play during autumn/winter/spring!!!!

Level One (Stuff anybody can do regardless of whether or not you like the idea :o))

DIY cleaners - basic cleaners require ingredients easily and cheaply found at the supermarket.
Not time-consuming. Takes approx 5 minutes to mix up a vinegar/water cleaner, or 15 minutes to mix up a batch of washing powder (once every few weeks). Very cost effective.

No-poo hair cleaner/condition - again requiring ingredients easily and cheaply found at the supermarket.
Not time-consuming. No prep required. Very cost effective.

DIY personal products - facial scrub, facial cleanser and moisturiser require ingredients easily and cheaply found at the supermarket.
Not time-consuming. Depending on the recipe no prep to 15 minutes prep required. Very cost effective.

Mamapads/Mooncups (and other brands) - whip up your own mamapads using scrap material, order a DIY set that contains everything you need or buy them all ready to use. Mooncups and various brands are a one-off cost of anywhere from $30 - $60. Added bonus of removing chemicals from your system, being extremely eco-friendly and much easier on your body. Many women report significantly less cramping and pain, and lighter flow once they switched to natural, reusable product.
Moderately timeconsuming if you're making your mamapads from scratch to not timeconsuming if you purchase ready-to-go. One-off purchase of cup and/or pads is extremely cost effective in the longrun.
Cloth nappies - many affordable options here such as make your own using scrap material, making your own using brought material, buying secondhand off TradeMe or other sources, prefold system.
Varies from time-consuming (it takes me about an hour to cut and sew 2-3 pocket nappies), to not time-consuming at all (seriously shopping cannot be classed as time-consuming! I mean hello, shoooopppppiiiinnnnnggggg).

Cloth wipes - cut up an old sheet/towel, dampen with water or a DIY wipes solution and voila!
Not time-consuming. Takes about 15 minutes (once-off). Use material that doesn't fray in order to avoid hemming.

Cloth toilet paper (also refered to as family cloth) - again cut up an old sheet/towel, dampen with water or a DIY wipes solution and voila! Having resorted to this system on the odd occasion as an emergency I can assure you it isn't as disgusting as it sounds lol in my experience there was no scrubbing required, cloths just got chucked into the nappy bucket and put through the machine with all that washing.
Again - Not time-consuming. Takes about 15 minutes (once-off). Use material that doesn't fray in order to avoid hemming.

Cloth cleaning wipes - again cut up an old sheet/towel, pop in a container and use instead of paper towels, etc. If you have a particularly messy mess just chuck the cloth into the fire or recycling otherwise into the washing machine!
Again - Not time-consuming. Takes about 15 minutes (once-off). Use material that doesn't fray in order to avoid hemming.

Bread products - Basic recipes require interchangeable ingredients easily found at supermarket. Bread, pita, burritos, bread rolls can all be made for a fraction of brought cost.
Can be timeconsuming if you are kneading by hand, alot faster if you have a mixer with a kneading attachment or use a no-knead recipe. A loaf or rolls can take up to half an hour of preparation, burritos/pitas are alot quicker (how often depends on how you store - you could do one big batch a month if you have the freezer space, otherwise anywhere from once a day to once a week).

Condiments - Basic condiments require ingredients easily and cheaply found at supermarket. Ingredients have multiple uses. Tomato sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, dressing, guacomole, salsa, etc can all be made at a fraction of brought cost while ensuring no added colours, flavours, preservatives and can be made to individual tastes. Fermentation also an option not offered at supermarket and offers a huge range of health benefits.
Not very timeconsuming. Most recipes take 15 minutes to mix up (how often depends on how much you use).

Baked Goods - Basic recipes require ingredients easily and cheaply found at the supermarket. Recipes such as cookies, muffins, muesli bars, cakes, fruit pies, meat pies, etc can all be made at a fraction of brought cost while ensuring no added colours, flavours, preservatives, cutting back sugar and sodium intake, catering to food allergies and individual tastes.
Moderately timeconsuming. My favourite recipes take no more than 15 minutes from getting ingredients out to putting them away (how often depends on how you store - you could do one big batch a month if you have the freezer space, otherwise anywhere from once a day to once a week).

Vegetable garden - Many options ranging from abit of effort at no cost or no effort at max cost! Whether you live on a farm with scads of room for a garden of in an apartment with only enough room for a couple of buckets a vegetable garden is attainable!
Dig up a patch in your garden, sprinkle seed or raise seedlings using DIY compost and egg trays, transplant and protect from marauding birds/cats/dogs/children - most basic.
Very timeconsuming (one-off), not always best results. Practically free! Cost rises to about $30 if you buy seedlings.
Dig up patch in your own garden, add fertiliser (DIY), compost (DIY), sprinkle seed or raise seedlings using DIY compost and egg trays, transplant  and protect from marauding birds/cats/dogs/children - step up from most basic.
Very timeconsuming (one-off), depending on your yard should get good results. Practically free if you DIY compost and fertiliser and seedlings. Cost rises to about $60 if you buy compost, fertiliser and seedlings.
DIY garden boxes (I used free wood from the local mill) OR beg borrow or steal (though we don't recommend that ;)) buckets and containers from everyone you know, drill holes in the bottom, fill with DIY fertiliser, DIY compost, seeds or home-raised seedlings and again protect from marauders.
Very timeconsuming (one-off), very good results (so long as your chickens don't get into them like mine did - little &^(*%*&^$*^#%&$#'s munched out on my precious seedlings LOL I'm really not having much luck with my gardening this year!!!!) Practically free if you source free scrap wood/containers, DIY compost, fertiliser and seedlings. Cost can vary from under $100 if you buy the wood etc and gets into the hundreds of dollars if you buy readymade garden boxes etc.


I know there are others but I'm having a mind blank lol note to self: write a list on paper thats NOT SCRAP while the ideas are fresh in my head then put it in a safe place that I'll remember when I need it at a later date!!! I'll add as I think of stuff ;)
The best part about Level One is that the ingredients required for cleaners, personal products and no-poo/conditioner are all interchangeable as are the condiment, bread and baking ingredients. Imagine how many supermarket aisles you could skip and how much time you'd cut off your shopping trip!!

Have you got any ideas?? Remember they have to be things that anybody can do :)

2 comments:

Em said...

I don't have anything to add to it, but thought I'd comment to say that it looks pretty comprehensive!
We are doing DIY cleaners, no-poo hair cleaners, cloth nappies and wipes, baking and bread products. Definitely keen on the idea of mooncups/mama pads, but probably wont go the way of the family cloth! It's funny though, because we happy use reusable wipes on our 9 month old, but can't get our heads around the idea of doing it ourselves!

JakesMama said...

Lol Em yes family cloth is not something we're generally comfortable with is it? We don't do it but at times when we've been caught short and resorted to using cloth baby wipes I've found it perfectly adequate and in fact easier and more comfortable than using toilet paper. Maybe its coz you can warm a cloth ;)

I wonder if its the term 'family cloth'? I mean if it was simply 'cloth toilet paper' I probably wouldn't associate the same things in my mind. When I think of family cloth I get a very off-putting image of one cloth being passed around many family members :gag: thats a totally inaccurate image obviously because once the cloth is used its popped in the wash, same as a cloth nappy or cloth wipe, but the image is still there lol I think I've inspired myself to change the name now!!

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