Self-Sufficient Living: How to Become Self-Sufficient (and Why You Probably Shouldn't)
Categories: Life Stories
True self-sufficiency may take decades to fully reach, but that's okay because self-sufficiency probably shouldn't be your real goal anyway.
The Problem with Self-Sufficient Living
Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. - Mohandas Gandhi
The first problem with total self-sufficiency is that it assumes a person (or family) can do everything themselves. Burnout is a serious issue when we attempt to take on everything ourselves. We are, by our very nature, dabblers in everything and specialists only in certain areas. Our nature prefers diversity, but attempting that diversity alone is overwhelming at best and narcissistic at worst. Refusing to rely on anyone else will likely mean living a very boring, unsatisfying life, exhausting our bodies and resources quickly and lacking any real time or ability to enjoy the life we're creating for ourselves.
The next problem with self-sufficient living is that it can be a rather lonely existence. We are social creatures and science has shown our inter-dependency on others is crucial to our mental, emotional and physical health and well-being.
We are not islands unto ourselves. And moving off-grid with the intentions of self-sufficient living does little to mitigate the problems of sustainability, political stability or economic collapse.
Self-Sufficient Communities Are the Real Answer
A better way to approach how to become self-sufficient is to approach it within the workings of a small self-sufficient community.
Our resources shouldn't be sourced from thousands of miles away, nor should they be provided by a single entity. Real sustainability means diversity on a community level, as well as personal level. Within a self-sufficient community, needs are met easily, efficiently and sustainably through proper planning, collaboration and cooperation.
The responsibility of providing food can be shared within every member of the community through means of barter and exchange. Housing can be built and maintained by local craftspeople. Transportation is easily shared and exchange is rampant: One person may knit socks in exchange for fresh eggs; another person could build furniture as barter for garden shares.
On a larger scale the community may provide jobs that service and support the community members directly and as a whole with little or no exportation or importation. They can work toward total energy independence and plan neighborhoods based on walk-able communities.
Not only are tangible needs met, but social needs are met as well. Self-sufficient communities provide friendship, entertainment and support. They are dynamic: consisting of many small parts to create a whole sustainable system of self-sufficient living.
What are your thoughts on self-sufficiency? Weigh in in the comments below!