By Vernita Gundy
Self Sufficient Living… HMMMMMM…What is that? I am a US citizen who lives in the City of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and although I’ve heard of self-sufficient living, I have never learned what it actually meant until now. Self-sufficient living means self reliance in learning to grow your own, make your own, sell your own and bake your own, for homesteading, urban homesteading or mini farms.
I’ve been in Costa Rica volunteering for Kids Saving the Rainforest the last 3 months and I have slowly started to understand what it is all about and how important it is to change our way of living so we can all be on this earth for years to come.
My first exposure to being self-sufficient was at Finca Braman. There priority is to grow their own fruits and vegetables for the animals living at the Kids Saving the Rainforest Sanctuary and for their guest staying at Mono Azul and the Blue Banyan Inn. They currently have growing on their property mango trees, nance trees, lime trees, orange trees, guava trees, sugar cane, corn, pineapples and many more things to come like a tilapia farm. They have also started a compost pile and that is where they store any leftover food waste.
Did you know that much of our household waste can be food for the garden and very valuable if we compost it, sustaining a cycle of production with little waste, incorporating ideas of permaculture and organics which also benefit the soil, and the plants you grow?
Now I’m not going to preach to you on how to live your life because I myself may not go back to the states living a self sufficient life and I don’t know what is available here in Costa Rica for you to make any changes but now I will be more aware of what I buy, throw out, and what I can do to protect our environment. Self-sufficient living reduces our Carbon Footprint by making small changes in every area of our everyday life.
Here are some ideas to get you started on self-sufficient living:
1) Buy appliances with the energetic seals like FIDE or the Energy Star; this will tell you how much energy is consumed while in use.
2) Buy furniture made from certified wood that comes from forest plantations managed under international sustainability standards.
3) Use compact fluorescent light bulbs, they provide the same amount of light as incandescent but they consume less energy.
4) In order to improve air quality, have plants inside and outside of your house. Within the house, plants are capable of absorbing up to 87% of hazardous toxins present in the air.
5) Use natural cleaning products without chemicals that may damage the environment.
6) Paint your house with light colors both on the inside and outside. On the roof this color reflects the light and on the inside these colors off light.
7) Make your own compost.
8) Start a worm farm to enrich your soil and have rich vermicompost freely and cheaply by feeding the worms your kitchen scraps.
9) Grow your own vegetables. This is the first step to self-sufficiency and self-reliant living.
10) Raise some backyard chickens. You can raise bantams if you have a very small space, or you can have full sized chickens. You don’t need too many for a steady egg supply. If you get a good chicken breed for eggs a good lying hen will lay about 5 eggs a week – self-reliant living at its best with fresh organic eggs every day.
So, if we all do at least one thing from this list we will all be on the right track of making our world a better place to live in.