How to Make a Self-Sufficient Homestead

Mike Warren/ Flickr

Self-sufficiency: Satisfying one’s basic needs without any outside help. While the idea of growing your own food or sourcing an alternative heat source can seem like a daunting task, the truth is that anyone, regardless of their location or lifestyle, can take steps towards creating a self-sufficient homestead.

The simplest step towards self-sufficiency is elimination. Paper products like paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper are an unnecessary expense and create a substantial amount of waste even in one person homes. Paper towels, napkins, swiffer pads and other various disposable products are part of a $2 billion per year industry.

Solution: Trading out your cleaning products for cloth rags, mops, and dish towels is more cost effective and sufficient. As for the toilet paper, the ability to install a bidet in your own home has become increasingly simple. For a step-by-step guide on how to get started, click here.

Another simple step towards self-sufficiency is frugality. Review your budget and cut out anything that you don’t need. Is that premium cable really worth the hefty price tag? Consider how much you spend on odds and ends. Constantly throwing away broken goods rather than repairing them, or buying “new”, can lead to superfluous spending.

Solution: By reusing and recycling, you can decrease your waste. Buying second hand clothes, toys, and furniture helps save money while recycling paper, glass, and plastics will help you put your trash back into recycled goods.

Dave Goodman/ Flickr
Dave Goodman/ Flickr

Alternative Energy
Energy is one of our most critical needs that we often take for granted. Being completely energy efficient requires you to generate your own power. The process required to do this will depend on the size of your household and your energy needs. This is why reviewing your basic needs and eliminating gratuitous luxuries like multiple televisions, computers, and other electronics is an important step in becoming self-sufficient. The less power you need, the easier it will be to switch over to alternative energy.

Solution: Simply monitoring your power usage is the best first step you can take. Becoming independent from your electricity supplier means relying on other sources like solar panels. But with renewable energy companies popping up, the easiest way to ditch fossil fuels is to switch over. It’s also a great way to save money, check out Green Mountain Energy to get started.

Growing Your Own Food
Buying nutritious produce, eggs, and milk from grocery stores and farmers markets can get expensive. Making your food source completely independent from outside resources can be a long process, but small steps can be taken to put you in the right direction.

Solution: Start small. Growing your own herbs can be done in any kitchen window and will provide you with economical fresh ingredients. Once you’ve gotten your toes wet, you can venture into vegetable gardening. If you have any kind of lawn, consider transforming it into a food resource. Keeping up a lawn is costly and has no actual purpose other than aesthetic. Growing your own fruits and vegetables can save you hundreds of dollars annually. If you live in an apartment you can also take advantage of community gardens where your services will be rewarded with fresh produce. Many urban areas now allow small animal permits within the city that make it possible for people to own chickens and rabbits (and occasionally goats) which are great sources for milk, meat, and eggs.

And the most crucial part of self-sufficiency is knowing that all good things take time. Any small steps that you take in the process are hugely important to changing your lifestyle.