Friday, December 18, 2009

How "Self-Sufficient" Do I Want to Be?

I have devised a little project for myself. I want to quantify (perhaps a little vaguely) how "self-sufficient" I want to be. Why do I put self-sufficient in quotes, you ask? Well, I am a believer that self-sufficiency is somewhat of a myth, and certainly an egotistical way to try to go about life. Community-sufficiency or local-sufficiency is a more appropriate term, and my project will address these.

So, enough preamble. What is my project all about. For a month, starting tomorrow, I want to keep a small journal of everything I use in my personal life on a day to day basis.  I will exclude materials I use at work, because it is doubtful I will be in need of venti cups or syrup pumps on my homestead.

So, what types of things will I be cataloging.  Basically everything.  Books, my computer, toilet paper, food I eat, paper towels, every object I interact with in my personal life.  The reason for this is that I want to calculate exactly how self-sufficient I can and want to be, and what areas I'd rather be community- or locally-sufficient.

To give a few quick examples...
  1. I washed my clothes today using laundry detergent I purchased from a store.  It would also be possible for me to grow some soapberry bushes on my homestead, and use these to produce my own laundry soap instead.  This is a product with which I can be self-sufficient.
  2. As anyone could guess, I also used toilet paper today.  It is possible that I could make and use my own toilet paper, but I have not yet discovered or devised an efficient way of doing so.  Most likely, this will be something I will rely on a specialist in the community to provide for my acquisition.
  3. Clothes are my final example.  I wear clothes everyday, and while I probably could make my own, I prefer not to.  Purchasing or bartering for clothes manufactured by a responsible, ethical company will not only support good business practices, but will also probably last much longer than anything I could make for myself, therefore reducing the amount of "stuff" I'm using in my lifetime.
At the end of the month, I will not only be able to evaluate what percentage of items I could provide or manufacture for myself, but it will also be a good catalog of ways I can reduce waste from my day to day life.  I will try to post a list every week starting next Saturday and running until January 15th, when I will evaluate the overall results and discuss what I've learned about where I want to be self-sufficient, and where I want to rely on my community to help me with the items I need or want.

Would anyone like to join me in quantifying how sustainable you can/want to be?

1 comment:

  1. I have decided to postpone this project for a little bit. I did not quite realize exactly how much I might be listing on a day to day basis. I need to plan out to what detail I will be documenting my daily "things" used. I will restart this project sometime after the new year.