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Sustainable Living

post #1 of 329
Thread Starter 
Not sure where else to put this. It seems like those of us who frequent NH&BC would be the ones discussing this...

Does anyone else really desire to live like the old days? I know there is a whole trend out there for sustainable living, people building green homes, living off grid, getting back to basics, etc.

When I think about SL I'm not imagining "yuppie" solar-powered dishwashers and organic junk food. I'm thinking: growing/hunting food, bartering with neighbors, digging a well for my water, heating and lighting my home with the sun, cooking my food from scratch, loving and respecting this earth and doing my part to LIVE this way rather than talking about it.

So many people are getting rid of chemicals, buying organic, working less and living more.....

If there are others out there with this outlook on life, let's talk!!! What are you doing in your life to make SL a part of your every day???
post #2 of 329
Its my dream to live this way

I am trying to make small lifestyle changes to work toward this goal. I am making more and more things from scratch and every year my (organic) garden gets a little bigger. It is my goal to freeze or preserve as much as possible.

I also reuse everything. I make new clothes out old ones and do patchwork with the scraps. I am hoping to try to make my own paper out of old paper soon too (if I can find the time). So many things can be reused in great ways.

I am getting rid of chemicals too. I haven't used chemical cleaners in a few years, and now the soap and shampoo is gone too.

I feel like there is so much more I need to learn, if I can do it little by little it won't be so overwhelming. I am always interested in what others are doing too
post #3 of 329
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by akirasmama
I am trying to make small lifestyle changes to work toward this goal.
Same here. I am (more and more) cooking from scratch, buying bulk, reducing waste/packaging (not having trash service helps), recycling my bathwather and laundry wather. I walk/bike everywhere to reduce my dependency on the car. EC with Davis to reduce dependency on diapers. I could go on and on....

We are moving this summer to a place with a yard large enough to grow a "real" garden. I plan to freeze/can/preserve what it yeilds. We're buying a 40 acre lot of land in So Colorado so that we can build a house and eventually move out there and be self-sustaining. We realize it will take a long time and we have LOTS to learn, but we also realize that begining the lifestyle now is the most important.

I get discouraged sometimes because I talk to people and they all talk about how great it would be to farm and live in a straw bale house, but they don't do much in their everyday lives to live more simply. One friend is gung-ho about trying to start a commune with friends, and is living WAY beyond her means.... buying designer clothes, etc. while they barely have money for gorceries....
post #4 of 329
There are other mamas with similar values as I have! Hurray, we are not alone! We also do our best to live the simple life. We have a good start but can still go a long way. We have a really ridiculously huge organic garden that meets all our produce needs in the growing season and we use a lot of home canned, frozen, pickled produce in the winter, although we depend on our food co-op for fresh stuff in the winter (we need salads!!). We have chickens which give us eggs and eating (rarely), ducks (some eggs and slug and snail control), bunnies, a small greenhouse, we keep bees for honey for eating and mead making, as well as beeswax for my salves and candles (my 5 year old daughter is a great candle maker, with supervision). We have way too many raspberry canes, blueberry and gooseberry bushes (think lots of jam making) , as well as plum, cherry and apple trees on our property. I have a large medicinal herb garden as well as lots of flowers and a children's garden. I cook everything from scratch and buy in serious bulk, lots of whole grains, and make our own bread. My dh brews awesome beer and mead. I try to make our clothes, which works well for me, but the kids get a lot of clothing from the grandparents so they don't need much. I knit all our hats, scarves and mittens and make a lot of waldorf style toys. I also spin and weave and make plant dyes, but don't have much time for it. We homebirth, breastfeed, EC, homeschool, etc. We live pretty far out so I only take the kids to town once weekly for storytimes, playgroups and shopping at the local co-op. So that is what we do, I could go on and on but I feel like we still have a long way to go... we want to buy a bigger piece of land and build our own home with sustainable materials, solar power or no power (which is how I grew up), composting toilet, graywater system etc., and have a herd of sheep, dairy goats and horses. I would like to do more fly fishing, and my dh would like to learn how to hunt. Sorry so long, but I am really passionate about this! I think no matter where you are you can be working towards living more simply/ land based. It is nice to be around (via the net) women who don't think I am crazy for having a clothes line! -FM
post #5 of 329
I've always felt like i was born in the wrong time.When I was young 18 i found myself living in the mountains with dh and ds among wonderful people who had always lived that way.My neighbors guided me in my efforts to can ,quilt, garden and sew with kind words and sometimes blunt critisism!20 some years later we still pretty much grow our own food and raise or hunt our own meat.I still grow a huge garden and haul the extra to the farmers market to sell.It's probably whats saved our butt when dh was laid off last month.We don't have the debt or consumer oriented lifestyle of alot of his former co-workers.Not a bad way to be.
post #6 of 329
Farmer mama, I bow down to you!!!!!! Really. That's amazing. That is my dream. Unfortunately, I'm a single mama living in an apartment building and going to school full-time. This means no garden, dd is in a home daycare, and I drive quite a bit during the week. BUT I am trying to do my part by buying organic, reusing EVERYTHING, making dd's and my clothing or buying at a consignment shop, recycling everything, and going all cloth for dd and I. There is nothing disposable in our house, be it paper towels or pads or diapers. Still I feel like it's not enough. I totally have those "back to the earth" thoughts everyday. I think us MDC mama's should move to a deserted island and begin our lives with our families over again in a fashion we deem appropriate.
Meg(so happy that there are other's around who won't scoff at my dream)
post #7 of 329
farmer mama - you have my admiration, and envy!!

You say you grew up without power. Please tell us how you were raised, what your growing years were like.
post #8 of 329
it's so great that there are others out there! I'm still on the beginning part of this journey. I was raised in kind of a SL household, though we never would have called it that. My parents, dh and I are currently looking for 100+ acres to start our own little community. The goal is to build our houses and start a farm. My parents already grow alot of their food, keep bees and such so this would simply be on a bigger scale. I also make all of our food and only visit the market when it's truly necessary. Thanks for sharing!
post #9 of 329
I love you all. It is our dream to live off the land on a few hundred acres and be off the grid and totally self-sufficient....I want your life farmer mama!!!! It will be a few years for us, though. My dh is in school so we live in apartments, etc. We have made some good changes over the last few years like get rid of consumer debt, stop using chemicals to clean our home, not use so much disposable things, I am trying to cook from scratch more, and we are always on the look out for publications about our dream (any of you read Back Home magazine? It is so cool! Or read The Simple Living Guide?)
post #10 of 329
Have you folks ever checked out the SL discussion forums? They are really great! http://www.simpleliving.net/forums/default.asp
I've learned tons from these people. The foundation of lots of the discussions comes from the book "Your Money or Your Life."
post #11 of 329
Hi all. Back Home Magazine is great, we also like Mother Earth News and we like the book Storey's Basic Country Skills, it has everything from gardening, building, canning, caring for animals, etc. I also love Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison about how to make your plot a complete system. Thanks for the admiration which is somewhat embarassing. I think that wherever you are in your life you can make a huge impact. When my dh was in school we lived in an apartment but still dreamed, planned, gathered info and did small steps like less waste, cooking with whole foods, sewing and making things ourselves, so we have totally been in the space of not living how we would ideally want to, but we always held on to the idea that we were (and still are) moving forward. Cynthia, about my folks, they bought land in the mountains when it was still relatively cheap, built a log cabin with no indoor plumbing or electricity. It was an awesome way to grow up in the middle of nowhere. It is funny how as a kid I thought everyone took showers outside from a sun warmed hose. It just goes to show how adaptable children are when they have their basic needs (food, shelter, love) met. They still live there but now have power and water. About communal land, my dh and I have talked about somehow buying adjoining land or parceling out a large piece of land with other like-minded families, so everyone could have their separate space (homes, gardens, etc.) but also share some communal spaces (larger farm, orchards, sheep, etc.). We have been around several communal land situations that ended badly so we are pretty hesitant, but there must be a way to make it work. Any thoughts? Also do you all know about the children's book author Tasha Tudor? She is 80 and lives and dresses like she is from the 1830's. Pretty cool.
post #12 of 329
I'd love to be more sustainable. It's expensive to buy land- and near well-paying jobs it's hard to find a bargain, so I'm hoping if we're frugal now we can retire to a place where we can live sustainably.

I've always done the small things to use less- walk, mass-transit, ride my bike, combine trips, fuel efficient cars, garden, use cloth napkins, diapers, etc... shop garage sales.

Darn, we should be able to afford some land in the country after all that, but it's not so yet!
post #13 of 329
I feel like I've come home. My first reaction when I saw this thread was "YES!"
I have wanted to live life more simply for a long time. My dh is the same way, but I'm not sure he's really up for it yet. So I'm slowly convincing him.
Now, we're doing small changes and big plans.
Hopefully we'll start building our new dream home (not the normal "dream home") in the next few years.
I'd like to pose a question to you all. I'm here in the very humid south. Have any of you build with alternative methods where there is high humidity? I just don't know what would work best.
I'm just so excited that this thread is here.

post #14 of 329
Hello, it is nice to see other folks here who are interested in simpler, more sustainable living. We are trying to get closer to being self sufficient (my hubby and 2 daughters) and have a small farm with dairy goats, ducks and geese. We are going to be planting a very big veggie garden and lots of trees. We also would like to find an alternative source of power but aren't going to be able to do that for quite some time, I'm afraid. Also, about growing veggies in the winter, there is a great book called _Four Season Harvest_ by Eliot Coleman and it is all about growing veggies year round. They live in zone 5, which is cold, cold, cold and still have fresh veggies all year.
Also, we prepare just about everything from scratch, because, well, we *have* to. My daughter, Sierra and I both have bad food sensitivities to processed foods and gluten, so we really can't eat packaged junk anyway! I guess food sensitivities can be a blessing in disguise! There is a great book out about traditional diet and food preparation called _Nourishing Traditions_. It has recipes for homemade sourdough without yeast and lactofermented vegetables, fermented dairy and other old-fashioned health foods.
Also, we don't want to do a mortgage ever again. We are going to start learning to build with cob and plan on building our own cob house some day. We will buy raw land. For now, we need to practice, so we are planning on building a "duck house" this summer for the ducks to take shelter in at night and during storms, etc. Anyway, good to see you all here.
post #15 of 329
Hi everyone!!!

We have been trying for a few years to figure out how we are going to do it! Still be able to support ourselves, our dd, and live off the land.

Our latest plan is to purchase a smallish piece of land in the area we love and slowly move fulltime to it.

We live in a large city currently, we are living as gently here as we can, car sharing, recycling, organic gardening, etc. and we rent.

Our plan is to work 8 months here renting and living in the big city and then live 4 months on our land. Slowly moving to fulltime as we become more selfsufficient. I am a herbalist and my dh is a sustainable electrician specializing in retrofitting.

I look forward to sharing our ideas and learning from all you wise earth conscience mamas!

Turning in for the night
post #16 of 329
My FAVORITE thing to do is to start a fire in my woodstove. Then I will use it to heat water for tea or a bath--or I will hang some laundry by it to dry.

And I LOVE it when the power goes out. We cook on the woodstove and of course every thing is by candle light. Ahhh--the good ol' days.:
post #17 of 329
we live in a great world! i love the balance of being at home on the farm all day long, working with the land, and then coming back and connecting to the world through my computer.
we live on five acres with my mil- living in and slowly converting the huge garage into a nice cozy home for us. it's funny to think about people building garages that are big enough to house families!
we raise our own meat, eggs, and veggies. last summer, i made my first batch of plum wine & fig conserve! yay!
it sure takes commitment to live completely off the land- my dh is focused on the outer world at this time- full time student & building up his food business- while i'm trying to work in our *too big* garden without any big fancy equipment to help me on my way, and a little gal who wants to wander the land picking flowers and watching the animals. so, things are going slowly... but we're young, and just started farming a few years ago. i grew up in the city, but when i first lived on a farm, it spoke to my soul!
even if some of us can't live off the land, there are so much that we can do in our daily tasks, the choices that we face every day.

***last week, i opened a bottle of my homemade plum wine and the wine just came gushing out! any help, anyone???***
post #18 of 329
Thread Starter 

I love being able to connect with likeminded mammas!

Farmer mama, you are such an inspriation, and a reminder that even when I get to the point I'm dreaming of, I will have so many more goals.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I will be "depriving" ds when we move onto our land, because we will be pretty rural, etc. I keep thinking I need to surround him with culture. But I'm trying to remind myself that the best thing I can do for him is to be a good example as a human being, and there are plenty of ways to let him know that the world doesn't revolve around the little town we live in. I think it goes back to my feelings of deprivation when I grew up, but I realize now that it was becuase I was influenced by the consumer-driven media and not my parent's values.
Mom raised us out in the sticks and grew all of our own food. Homebirthed us, etc. But I saw it as something to be ashamed of because we were poor, instead of something to be proud of. I think the difference will lie in how I raise my children, I will actually explain to them the good things about how we live instead of the "tough, deal with it" mentality.
I feel very fortunate to have my mother to learn skills from. Meanwhile, I am proud to say that dh and I live debt-free and have a substantial savings. I'm really blessed that we have figured out our priorities in our youth so that we don't end up (like some of my friends) neck-deep in mortgages, shcool loans, and car payments. I used to be in debt and unemployed and it was the biggest lesson of my life....
post #19 of 329
A couple of years ago, my dreams had been to buy several acres and live off the land. But my dreams have morphed. I am getting more and more interested in urban & small space gardening.

I am trying to make urban living as sustainable as possible. I don't think we will move out to the country but work on eco-renovating our turn of the century post house.

We come up with new ways all the time to leave the smallest foot print - organic gardening in containers and terraced beds, 1 used car (as much as we want 2), recycling beyond the municipal program, rainwater collecting, no chems, etc.

Since not everyone can move to the country I want to learn to be an example of sustainable urban living.
post #20 of 329
Farmer mama, can I come and live with you please? :LOL

Sounds like heaven. It is my dream to live this way.
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