One of the foremost things that attracted me to green and eco conscious living was the direct correlation to self sufficiency and personal responsibility. Going green is largely about taking control of your spending, your habits, your wastefulness, and YOUR contribution to the pollution of our planet. To live a more eco conscious life and reduce your impact on the planet I think you need to develop your skills set. We need some mad green skills. ;)
This is good news in my mind as I am and will always be a student of life. Learning new things is one of my greatest passions and I loved college more than anyone should I think. I still often think about going back to college to pursue my interests. Classes of any sort whether they be at a college or at my local community center make me stand up and take notice. I LOVE to learn! My hubby and I both enjoy “how-to” books and own a many of them. We subscribe to magazines that discuss self sufficiency and homesteading. We are very interested in expanding on our existing skills all the time and with the economy the way it is and the planet in the condition that it is…I think this is important. Instead of the skills to pay the bills maybe we need the skills to avoid paying the bills. Aka the more self sufficient we are the less likely we will need to rely on other people and services to get by. How can we reduce our consumption and rely more on the sweat of our own backs to get by?
In Mother Earth News this month they shared a survey they did of farmers and over 60% of the farmers they interviewed felt they were in a better position than other people in the country to rough it through economic hardship. Why is that? Cause they have skills.
So what kind of skills can save you money and help you reduce your environmental footprint at the same time? Here are some of the front runners in my mind:
Grow Your Own: I think it is incredibly important that people learn to grow their own food. Our conventional food growers use pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and all sorts of chemical nasties on the food they grow. We can opt to reduce the amount we buy and therefore reduce support to such industries. It is also entirely possible to grow all your own food if you want to. All it takes is hard work and the dedication to build new skills. Grow in your front and backyard, patios, decks, balconies, window sills, etc. Join a community garden if you have absolutely no place to grow. Start a freedom garden movement in your community.
Sew Your Own: Sewing is a lost art and one we need to revive. In this day and age of slave labor and cheap Wal-Mart clothes and goods it is easy to decide that sewing your own is too costly. But sewing your own clothing, bedding, bags and totes, home decor, toys, etc. is just to rewarding and empowering to ignore. And you can pick up very low cost fabric at yards sales and estate sales all to often as well. I have often bought entire bolts of fabric (40-100 yards) direct from the manufacturing companies so that I can keep costs down on sewing projects. Get good at sewing and you also have a marketable skill. I made good money selling hand sewn goods online for several years. I still love to buy hand sewn items from other moms and do so all the time.
Make Your Own: Why not try to make your own bread, soaps, candles, cleaning supplies, etc? Cook your own food and make your own dog/cat food. How much of the “stuff” you buy can you make yourself? Not only can this save money it is really rewarding to be able to make your own stuff and not have to shop for it. Right now I am reading the Outlander series and in a nutshell the heroine decides twice to to go back in time and live in 18th century Scotland where she and her family have to grow their own food or starve, make their own candles in a week long process and harvest the beeswax themselves, make their own clothes, build their own shelters, and set their own broken bones. It is a really fascinating read and every time I catch myself wondering why on earth she would CHOOSE to live that way I am reminded just how strong and self reliant this character is…yet you will NOT find a sub heading here called “Set Your Own”. :) Please don’t try to set your own broken bones.
Entertain Your Own: The biggest budget killer for my family is entertainment. I grew up in an affluent family that traveled a lot and generally just spoiled me. If I wanted something, I got it. Hubs and I ended up passing on a lot of that to our own kids and now we are back peddling. If we don’t watch it the kids will talk us into a bunch of worthless toys and we will spend a $100 a week on DVDs and movie theatre tickets. This past year I let my son choose an an out of state destination for his birthday and he chose Pittsburgh, PA. We could handle that request. This year he wants to go to Paris! We had to put an end to the destination birthday thing. ;) Now we invest in season passes to educational places like the zoo and the Science Museum. We buy second hand books and do a lot of reading. We do crafting and painting. I encourage the kids to put on plays for us (last week they re-enacted Star Wars). They listen to audio books. We search out our community for free or low cost events. We create fun outdoor play areas at home and we take them hiking and camping. Sometimes in lieu of traveling to warmer places in the winter we get a cheap local motel room with an indoor pool and let the kids spend the whole weekend in the pool. We are doing this in February in fact. There are so many low to no cost entertainment ideas out there. Check out my TV Free site for ideas. It is a skill for many to get creative and entertain themselves.
Build Your Own – This is my hubby’s favorite learning area. He reads DIY books on building and carpentry with abandon. By developing building skills you can do home renovations yourself, you can build raised beds for your garden, build furniture, etc. The possibilities are endless. My hubby and I both want to pursue education and training in sustainable energy and building systems. We want to learn how to install solar panels and grey water collection systems.
Reuse Your Own- It is both frugal and green to reuse everything as much as you can. You can use egg shells, old rain boots, and milk jugs in the garden. Old wool sweaters and t-shirts can be turned into cloth diapers and covers. Torn clothing can be used to make rag rugs. Glass jars can be turned into candle holders and vases. One of the greatest cost savings opportunities available is to use and reuse what you already have.
What green skills do YOU want to pursue?
Monday, January 26th, 2009