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I am a total newb! But...

552 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  natrowmum
I am so interested in living off the grid, sustainable living, etc. I am so entrenched in the 'other' lifestyle tho and we have no money, dont own a house....

I was wondering how you all began on your journey to get where you are today. How long has it taken you to get to the selfseficiency stage, or is it a continual work in progress. Im interesting in sustainable living for a number of reasons. 1 being that the world cannot carry on the way its going and many people are making a wise decision to make the changes now before there is something like a breakdown of the way people have been living. We'd have an advantage having taught our kids self seficiency skills.

That was a way over the top reason, I know. Another reason is because it would just be so fun (hard work!! but really good fun. I like hard work and good fun!)

I realize that some of you may have grown up on a farm (? maybe) but others will have started off where we are right now. We live in the city, we try to recycle, reuse, learning how to reduce the unnecessary things in life (overpackaging), and we are wanting to start a small veg garden. Humble beginnings indeed!

Id just like to hear some of your stories on how you started out in a lifestyle that is more selfseficient.

Hey Ive even heard of someone who lives in the center of London who is off the grid! that was encouraging.

AAAnd was it expensive to get started. forgot to mention that before. Anyone use solar energy, what did that cost?
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Helloo? can anybody hear me?
HI there.

I think it is wonderful that you are thinking about all of this. You have to start small and where you are at or it is totally overwhelming.

We started by changing the household products we use. We now only use organic cleaners, laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, etc.

Then we started switching the foods we eat. We started with meats because we thought it was important to get away from the hormones in meat. Now we are working on dairy and fruits/veggies. It is expensive so we are doing one step at a time. We live in an area where we have to have organic foods shipped to us. So it is really expensive.

Eventually (probably in 3-5 years), we will be building a house that used geo thermal heating and it will be straw bale construction. This will be the biggest part of our conversion.

If you don't have room to start a garden, you can join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and get your produce that way. This is available in a lot of just have to check around.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Good luck. There are a lot of great resources here.
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My goal is the same as yours: to be as self-sustained as possible. I agree with the PP that it just has to be a gradual process. A few things we did at first were to reduce waste in all the ways we could: using hardly any paper products, starting family cloth (wipes, napkins, ets). We got a wood burning insert for our fireplace to heat our whole house. We started a garden. We are looking into buying a few calves to raise for our own meat and to share with family. Overall, it seems expensive to make any of these changes but it's been worth it. We're just going at it one step at a time.
Yeah, I'm in the same predicament. I have all these big dreams about living in an intentional community where we are off the grid, grow food and various other cruchy living stuff that I haven't quite gotten to yet. I get frustrated because I want it NOW and yet we seem so far from it. All I can do is make the best of where I am now and continue to take the baby steps needed to get there. We eat 95% organic (100% organic meat always), cloth diaper, use natural household products, buy second hand clothing.. Unfortunetly there are no recycling programs in our area and getting off grid using solar energy isn't feasible because of where we live.. there are only 3.5 hours of daylight in the winter. Not to mention the enormous cost of solar panels and the fact that we live paycheck to paycheck. It will probably be a few years yet until we can move closer to the ulitimate goal of living as sustainably as possible.
This will be the first year that I plant a veggie garden. I've never lived anywhere that had the space before. So I'm really excited to take that next step. I really want to learn how to do canning and preserves. Plus, I need to wean us off alot of the premade foodstuffs. We eat out of boxes waaay too much.. organic boxes atleast..but still boxes. I've never been much of a cook and I'm realizing that cooking from scratch is one of single most important things a household can do to reduce their impact on the environment. Alot of extraneous middlemen and oil consumption gets cut out of the loop that way. It'll be a major shift for me though.. I came from a family that always cooked out of boxes and cans so spending hours a day cooking seems really foreign and daunting to me.
Baby steps....*sigh*
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she started with flower boxes of herbs at her windows in her apartment, strangely enough

then moved on to increasing gradually the organic food content (we're trying too! just started this year, yeah me!, not a lot, but a start) and natural products

recycled more and learned the skills she need to do what she needed ex: buying strawberries at the store and making jam out of them, then she started pick your own strawberries and making jam out of them to save $ to do some of the other more exspensive things

she did it in baby steps--now she's where she wants to be--eats out of the garden she grew herself, the whole shebang! I think maybe it took her 15? 20? years. definately more than 10. probably closer to 20. and she started where i did. suburbia girl--dad had a garden sometimes. recycled cans for $. pick up trash to clean park because it LOOKED bad not to recycle the cans and bottles. very different attitudes than someone who cares about the environment if you know what i mean.

i agree that the important thing is to take it at a reasonable pace. i just made a bunch more cloth napkins recently--my family uses them now more than 75% of the time. frustrating--but, think, what if we didn't use them ever? I've just reduced 75% of the napkins we throw away--we've only bought 1 package of napkins since 11/05 (dh did it). and i just bought enough mama cloth for those times when my period is weeks late (i can't seem to keep them washed & DRIED fast enough not to run out during. eventually i'll have enough reusable stuff to use all the time thanks to learning to sew better.)

my family and most of my friends don't get the need to reduce what we use so i'm kind of going it alone--my dh is freaked out by the one time he saw my mama cloth the laundry to be folded and annoyed that i washed and kept plactic tv dinner trays and he constantly throws away perfectly good stuff "cleaning"--he does want to go off the grid and we would love an underground home. i have someone i thought was my friend who kept bringing styrofoam to my house for get-togethers not just in spite of my upset, but because of it--she told me i needed to get over it and she was helping me. and. . . the comments. ugh. except my one neighbor who is also taking it one step at a time too (farther along than me and uber supportive, go Kell!)

my dd & ds are trying with the whole organic thing--sometimes we buy organic treats for school & scouts--talk about exspensive and you should hear the explanations my kids use to explain why we would even want them to their little mainstream friends--"no chemicals, okay? chemicals are baaaad! you should try to use less chemicals so you don't die so soon." not how i would have put it, but it's a start. we go out to Whole Foods together and i let them pick a few things--my daughter used to eat Spaghettio's for school lunchs--now we've replaced them with the cans of Annie's pasta. and my son doesn't take rice krispie treats to school for snack anymore--he takes koala bars. and using reusable containers for school lunches--like sandwich boxes, instead of bags and small tupperware cups for fruit and taking metal silverware instead of plastic. i am thinking about knitting up some little silverware bags so dirty silverware doesn't pollute everything else in the bag (good for picnic and buffets the description says on the pattern) ( because the dirty lunch carrier drives my kids crazy and they want plastic and this summer i am going to make their lunch boxes so i can wash them and reuse them without them getting gross or falling apart. and i am trying to sew more--if nothing else i am getting better at repairing problems like ripped seams and wrong size so clothes last longer and learning how to quilt to i can use stained or holey clothing up. little by little.

did you know that even the most heinous store in the world is starting to carry organic stuff? to my shame i was shopping in Wal-Mart and saw organic cane sugar the other day
and my local navy commissary is carrying more organic stuff too. yeah!

i get frustrated sometimes with the people who go nuts sometimes when you don't go organic and off the grid like yesterday. i want to say "don't scream at me, i am trying. what do you want me to do? stop trying? go away." instead of support and advice, you get blame. remember, at least you're trying. how many people don't? we've got 7 or 8 more years until retirement so we move a lot and a lot of the people i have more in common with don't like military people--so i get flack about dh being navy AND not being green enough, so seeing other people trying helps me when i get frustrated. thanks.

did i mention that i am jealous and in awe of my friend's mom?
the thought of her keeps me trying too. it's good to have heros.
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