Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Self sufficiency goals for 2011

It's mid-February, but I think that any day is a good day to make resolutions. Actually I rarely make conscious resolutions, but these ideas have been coalescing in my head for a while and I think it's a good idea to write them down to check progress at a later date.

A warning first: I've been working very hard lately and haven't had a day off in weeks, so I am very tired and I'm probably going to ramble. Part of what has inspired this post is a fortnight spent away doing a course to update a certification, and living in residential halls eating cafeteria food while doing so. The lower quality of the processed food compared to what I'm used to and the waste I saw set my brain in motion (that's not to complain about the cooking, which was fabulous considering what the cooks were given). It's the quantity vs quality of food debate.

My thoughts went thus: it's all very well to boast about how far one is down the path when they've gone a long way towards self-sufficiency, but when you've imposed the kind of setback I've imposed upon myself by changing country and starting all over again? I may be immodest to say so, but that could be interesting. Most people who start down the self-sufficiency road from a standing start do so from scratch. What difference doe it make if you do so with the accumulated knowledge of spending 15 years living the lifestyle? The concept of having a clean slate in terms of possessions appeals to me. So I've formed the following goals for myself for 2011.

As a beginning, I eat no processed food, I eat no meat (because that's how I like to live), and try to buy food as locally as possible. I bake all our own breads and we tend not to eat sweet stuff or snack foods. Our weaknesses are booze, salt and spicy foods. And travel. In some ways, it doesn't matter how much I live a sustainable lifestyle, my life dictates that I will fly around the world 2.5 times this year and from a carbon viewpoint you could view any efforts at sustainability as futile. But that's missing the point: every lifestyle choice we make counts. Most carbon generation comes from industry, and that is fuelled by the expectations of consumers.

The goals:

  • Chart my progress more assiduously. To that end, sustainability Mondays will restart next week, allowing myself weeks off for the times I'm at sea.
  • No plastic is to enter the house unless absolutely necessary. This is particularly salient in a household that does not yet own basic cleaning items, like toilet brushes or brooms.
  • Until a vegetable garden is established, limit food purchasing as much as possible to locally sourced items. Again, a big point at the moment as I'm in what is a temporary household. Exceptions to that which I'm going to allow myself are avocados, lemons and passata.
  • Build an emergency store. I've felt vulnerable, knowing I don't have food in the house.
  • Minimise food packaging. I'm going to accomplish this, inn juncture with the previous three points, by buying dried foods in bulk and storing them in glass.
  • Find some decent land to buy, and on which Mr. G can build a house. This won't be a forever home, but that's all part of the grand plan to live debt free.
  • I should probably also add: import Mr. G, who is not here yet but will come here later in the year.
  • Everything that is to enter the house must be purchased in as sustainable a manner as possible. This is not too difficult because we do live a fairly frugal lifestyle, except for certain luxuries. (*cough*wine*cough*)
  • No clothing from China, especially if it's made from cotton (now guaranteed to be GM). In fact, GM nothing.
  • Increase the amount of our own clothing that is home-made as much as possible. This includes wearing existing clothing until it is worn-out.
  • Learn better how to sew and more about dressmaking and shirtmaking. I already spin, weave and knit. Learning to sew will capitalise on the ability to make fabric.
  • For now: finally start brewing beer.
  • For winter: collect seawater and make salt over the wood fire. In the meantime, I'm buying Murray River salt, which uses oversaline water and makes salt from that. It's yummy, gives us minerals and combats soil salinity, all at the same time.
  • Conserve water. I suspect this one will be easy because this house is on tank water, and every time I touch a tap a pump audibly kicks in in the attic. It makes you think twice about your consumption.
It's going to be interesting to see how these goals change over the rest of the year.


Alison said...

Now, *that* is inspiring. I'd love to live more like that, but J's not quite on the same path yet. (Currently revelling in having a paycheck again, he is planning speakers and a movie projector and has bought a new car and.. and...)

Whilst you're over here... if you want any sewing demonstrations, or a lesson in winemaking, let me know. I don't know how long you'll be here for, but I'm guessing time will be limited. as such, focussed questions are teh bomb. ;)

Oh - and Mr G is officially a 2011 project, is he? Last I heard, the date wasn't set yet!

Geodyne said...

It often catches me by surprise how much Mr. G supports and enables these ambitions! Every time I think I'm going too way out he's right behind me.

Mr G is *now* officially a 2011 project! You're right that the date hasn't been set for him to come out yet, that's completely up to him. But every time we talk it seems to get sooner!

Yes, yes, yes, on the sewing and the wine making. But I'm only there for a week this time and some of that time will be spent up north.

Leigh said...

Absolutely excellent list of goals. I try to buy nothing from China, but I really hadn't thought about GM cotton, good point.

Leigh said...

P.S. Do give us a step by step on making your own sea salt!