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Old 12-06-2012, 02:05 PM
 
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Hello everyone, recently I read a book online about moneyless living, and it got me thinking about a lot of things I had never thought about before. First of all, it made me realize just how much my family wastes every day. Second, it made me realize how, as a fifteen year old, I am completely dependent on other people. From there, I started reading all about organic gardening, sustainable living, and self sufficiency. All of these things interest me greatly. I believe that as the next generation, it is my responsibility to help get people off of the track of blind consumerism and onto the path of sustainability and respect for the earth. The only place to start is with myself. But now I'm looking for something I can do to take that first step towards self sufficiency. I've looked into community gardening for a hands on introduction into organic gardening, but there aren't any community gardens where I live. I've read all about WWOOFing and HelpX and Ecovillages, and I'm very interested in that kind of thing, but the problem is I'm still in school. Is there anything I can do today to start learning skills that will one day help me become self sufficient? A club, a class, somewhere I can volunteer, any and all ideas are welcome and greatly appreciated. I just want something that will be that stepping stone from thought and theory to having the skills to take action and make a difference.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:19 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
30,652 posts, read 49,340,540 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annadodd View Post
... I believe that as the next generation, it is my responsibility to help get people off of the track of blind consumerism and onto the path of sustainability and respect for the earth. The only place to start is with myself....
That is very mature of you.

Permaculture, Intentional Community, organic gardening, sustainable living, and self sufficiency; are all themes that are getting more attention these days.

In my area there are groups forming around each of these ideas. It is becoming a growing sub-culture.

By using internet tools like: Meetup, Google 'alerts', and Facebook, you may be able to find groups in your area.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 51,286,412 times
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Default Local schools

You have not told us where you live so detailed advice is impossible. However I suggest you look for local of county high school level trade schiools. They may have programs in both agriculture as well as how to build things. Sustainable living will still require cash so knowing how to build things like houses, sheds and barns as well as repair used machinery can be very useful.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:49 PM
 
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You can't live sustainably, it's a myth. Civilizations (even the most primitive ones) are inherently unsustainable. Forgive me, but Nature itself is unsustainable, it requires death and rebirth.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:06 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,581 posts, read 17,131,282 times
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You sound just like me at that age. I remember when I discovered Mother Earth News, which was a great magazine then and I loved it. Here's what I did at your age and some of these you might be able to do and some not, depending on your living situation.

1. Learn to cook from scratch. I learned to make bread and my first loaf could have knocked someone out if I'd have hit him on the head with it. Your folks will probably be glad to have you take over cooking duties sometimes and I learned how to cook with sourdough at your age too. I just had some tasty SD pancakes for breakfast this morning. You can also learn to make some kinds of cheeses and you can get good veggies at the farmer's market or pick your own type farms. Whenever you see a recipe, think about what folks did for the ingredients in the old days. Like sourdough was actually what people used for yeast back then. Also, people didn't can anything until the early 1800's because they kept things like sauerkraut in crocks in their cellars. Turns out the stuff is good for you and you can learn to make that too.

2. Learn to garden. You say there are no community gardens where you are but even folks in NYC can sometimes figure out how to grow herbs on the windowsill. Consider it practice for the future and put some of those herbs in your bread. You can get a trashcan and poke it full of holes and put in a few inches of soil and seed potatoes and as the potatoes grow you add more soil and so on until fall and then you dump it out and you have a trashcan full of potatoes. My dad grew tomatoes in boxes on the driveway.

3. Use your interests to guide you in your hobbies. You could learn to knit, sew, fix cars, work with animals, etc. When you do these things, try to use found materials. I know that you can sew some really cute things from thrift shop clothes and pay a fraction of what you would if you went to the fabric store. And speaking of thrift shops, you probably already love them but you can get just almost everything you need from them. After you learn these skills, if you decide to do wwoof or helpx, you will have some experience and that will cause you to be more in demand than someone that they'd have to teach everything to. Esp if you can cook. Esp bread. LOL. Oh yeah and make a fine collection of youtube vids while you're at it. You'll be out on your own before you know it.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,791 posts, read 53,980,503 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RememberMee View Post
You can't live sustainably, it's a myth. Civilizations (even the most primitive ones) are inherently unsustainable. Forgive me, but Nature itself is unsustainable, it requires death and rebirth.
Regrettably, pretty true. The close contenders were the crew of the Bounty on Pitcairn (who killed each other off, leaving mostly the women), some Amazon tribes that had a rough life as European diseases were introduced, some remote Papua New Guinea tribes.

The exercise of examining sustainable living is certainly worthwhile, but if you plan to live more than a few years, you'll need access to medical care, money for taxes and insurances, and so on. While you could try going off in the woods for an extended time, that same time is much better spent learning how to interface with business and government and learn a few trades. Time and money wasted early in life can have cumulative effects. Civilization will not allow you to live completely sustainably for more than a few weeks at a time.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:23 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,581 posts, read 17,131,282 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RememberMee View Post
You can't live sustainably, it's a myth. Civilizations (even the most primitive ones) are inherently unsustainable. Forgive me, but Nature itself is unsustainable, it requires death and rebirth.
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Regrettably, pretty true. The close contenders were the crew of the Bounty on Pitcairn (who killed each other off, leaving mostly the women), some Amazon tribes that had a rough life as European diseases were introduced, some remote Papua New Guinea tribes.

The exercise of examining sustainable living is certainly worthwhile, but if you plan to live more than a few years, you'll need access to medical care, money for taxes and insurances, and so on. While you could try going off in the woods for an extended time, that same time is much better spent learning how to interface with business and government and learn a few trades. Time and money wasted early in life can have cumulative effects. Civilization will not allow you to live completely sustainably for more than a few weeks at a time.
You know guys, I know you're being fake philosophical here and I'm annoyingly taking this seriously, and while I agree with you philosophically to an extent; like I know that humans are social beings and are much happier when around others, I also know that it's possible to take some load off the the earth and do things that use less energy w/o going whole hog and living in the woods by yourself. Also, I don't seem to recall the OP stating that as his goal and I don't believe in disrespectfully goading someone b/c of their tender young age. The OP can no more help being 15 than you guys can help being older than dirt.

I do believe that homestead skills could come in handy for the future as I believe that peak oil is a real possibility and that we may at some point in this young person's future have to begin the process of a "power down." I'm guessing that both of you are older than 15, so maybe it's not urgent for you but I for one do not believe that there's enough oil under, what is it, S.Dakota?, to keep us going indefinitely into the future. And if the oil is finite that may be a good thing b/c I also, , believe that global warming is a real threat as well.

And even if I'm crazy which many people will believe, I still think that these skills can come in handy. Why? Because no knowledge is wasted and because doing these things is kind of fun for some warped people like myself. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed those sourdough pancakes yesterday and they help me to win friends and influence people. I enjoy the mindfulness meditation of hanging the clothes on the line and they smell so good after. I get a real feeling of accomplishment when I buy something really nice at the thrift store and I like taking myself out of the rat race and focusing on more spiritual values. And that's just the beginning. I know it's hard to believe but some of us are actually offended at being referred to as consumers. Sounds sort of like parasites.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:45 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,791 posts, read 53,980,503 times
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There are advantages to being "older than dirt". It is called life experience. (FWIW, from the TOS - You must be 16 years of age or older to register for this site. The poster is admittedly violating those terms, but that isn't the issue and I'm sure he forgot a birthday somewhere.)

I'm not being "fake philosophical", I'm being pragmatic and not getting on the eco-nut bus and drinking the kool-aid. You say you were interested in Mother Earth News. Did you ever go to their eco-village like me and see what the reality looked like? The giant useless minto wheel, filled with freon leaking to the atmosphere, IIRC? Have you ever gone beyond articles to find the effects of burying cordwood so that mold and fungus can make you sick in your "sustainable" dugout home? Have you been in a greenhouse enough to know that they are next to impossible to heat and cool, and are not generally a good method of "year-round" agriculture, especially when the plants have the brains to not grow in winter when there isn't enough sun to support them? TMEN was an interesting and intriguing magazine back then, but the Shuttleworths got most of their article basics from old Popular Mechanics and other farm magazines from 1900 to the 1950s. A LOT of those ideas were not sound.

Peak oil in the foreseeable future has repeatedly been proven to be nonsense. Even if oil reserves ran low, there is more than enough methane hydrate to power the world for generations.

I do agree that homesteading skills are a valuable skill set, as I said before, but for reasons why are different than yours. To be able to give even somewhat educated responses, you have to "walk the walk" for at least short distances. Back in the 1970s, I was gardening and rewrote a bio-gas manual. In the 1980s, I started fooling around with a Trace 2KW inverter and used Carrizo solar panels. We live on 15 acres, and I tried large gardens for three years and kept track of labor and expenses and use of equipment that makes it possible. Around here, if you want a garden, you need about a 12' tall electric fence to keep the deer out, and you had better be happy weeding beans in 105 degree temps midsummer, have plenty of water, and be comfortable dealing with mosquitoes, leaf-hoppers, Mexican bean beetles, stink bugs, cabbage worms, and a host of other pests. Even if you save seeds, you still have to start somewhere, and when the strains go sport, figure out how to handle it. "Self-sustainability" is a sham.

I have the greatest respect for people who have the time and ability and money to tend large gardens, buy canning jars, and can at home. I also know for a fact that it is NOT sustainable in the way the glossy magazines claim, and I can buy a can of beans for 50 cents, which is about 1/3rd the documented cost of growing my own. I'd rather put my time and money elsewhere. Besides, I can repurpose the used can.

Fifteen and sixteen are prime ages for people to resonate with stuff they see written and believe it, no matter how impractical. I know. BTDT. Sustainable and back to the land in the U.S.? You should take a look at a photo of my cousin (same age as me) who inherited the family farm, and then one of me. What a difference a few decades make.

If you want to see real attempts at self-sufficiency, talk with a few peace corps volunteers. Buying your Troy-bilt tiller and hoping that it lasts your lifetime or is ecologically sound is foolish even if you ignore the gas and oil it uses. Many of my neighbors used to work in cotton fields with a big sack dragging on the ground behind them, and hoeing with hoes so used the blades were paper thin. The closer to the land and self-sufficiency you get, the greater the toll on your body.

It IS important to know how to grow your own food. If you eat meat, it IS important to at least go through the process of killing and gutting a few chickens. Those are part of knowing just what is required to survive on earth and acting responsibly. If you can't stomach that, how about going to the reference section of a library, pulling a July 1917 National Geographic and reading about the "Fearful Famines of the Past" that occurred prior to the green revolution. Cannibalism was a common part of being "self-sufficient" after crop failures and during drouth. It happened on every continent and in just about every civilization.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:06 AM
 
2,878 posts, read 3,852,661 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RememberMee View Post
You can't live sustainably, it's a myth. Civilizations (even the most primitive ones) are inherently unsustainable. Forgive me, but Nature itself is unsustainable, it requires death and rebirth.
Ever heard of cycles? They are part of Nature too. So is the concept of equilibrium. Man is the only "thing" out there that ruins both.

I have solar for power (completely off grid), a well, a septic that is only used for the graywater since we use composting toilets and my (small) house is made out of load-bearing straw bale, by myself.

I tend to my own garden and work from home (thus only driving to get whatever I need from the grocery store once a week, that I cannot grow). My environmental footprint is MINIMAL compared to your average American's footprint. When we sell our property we will move somewhere even *more* rural where I will rinse and repeat the above AND use my horse to get to the grocery store (and keep the truck parked waiting for an emergency).

So, philosophically speaking the solar panels took energy/fuel to make, so did the roof lumber frame OR the well to drill. But PAST that point, I am way gentler on the planet than your ignoramus who thinks that veggies and milk are somehow given birth in the grocery store or the plastic bag from thin air...

What is your alternative? Sprawl, eat the contaminated junk from the store and cut trees so you can hire out the labor to someone else for 10x the costs to get a toxic and ugly house? Give up the 99% of the good you can do because you cannot do 100% good?

To the OP: good for you, we need more young people who are striving for the same goals! The culture in this country is consumer and debt oriented and you want to AVOID both.

My advice: keep reading. If you can, start growing things in containers at home, things like tomatoes or whatever suits your fancy. Read books about straw bale building or slipform masonry building or whatever interests you. You can find 2-3 day workshops on building with straw bale all over the country, for example. Maybe you can persuade one of your parents to accompany you for the weekend.... There is a 3-DVD set sold on Amazon that instructs you step by step into understanding, selecting, buying and installing off-grid solar PV systems, you can watch it and then build a VERY small system at home to power something you use (like a laptop or stereo or charger for an iPod/iPad if you have one...).

OD

P.S. Most of the "naysayers" usually have a "vested" interest in saying "no". This means that either they make a profit off something that is opposite to your idea and they are simply scared that if the world changed to listen to you, their whole system of values would implode and they would be left profitless.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:29 AM
 
2,878 posts, read 3,852,661 times
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Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Peak oil in the foreseeable future has repeatedly been proven to be nonsense. Even if oil reserves ran low, there is more than enough methane hydrate to power the world for generations.
Let's keep politics out of this, the young OP should read all the FACTS (even the ones served by big-oil sponsored research) before making up her own mind. Even if what you say is true - why would I burn oil to produce electricity when I can get it cleanly from the Sun for free?

Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
I do agree that homesteading skills are a valuable skill set, as I said before, but for reasons why are different than yours. To be able to give even somewhat educated responses, you have to "walk the walk" for at least short distances. Back in the 1970s, I was gardening and rewrote a bio-gas manual. In the 1980s, I started fooling around with a Trace 2KW inverter and used Carrizo solar panels. We live on 15 acres, and I tried large gardens for three years and kept track of labor and expenses and use of equipment that makes it possible. Around here, if you want a garden, you need about a 12' tall electric fence to keep the deer out, and you had better be happy weeding beans in 105 degree temps midsummer, have plenty of water, and be comfortable dealing with mosquitoes, leaf-hoppers, Mexican bean beetles, stink bugs, cabbage worms, and a host of other pests. Even if you save seeds, you still have to start somewhere, and when the strains go sport, figure out how to handle it. "Self-sustainability" is a sham.
Sounds to me like you were born with a brown thumb - no shame in that, some of us have more skill in growing things than others. Lack of water in the summer in Alabama? Eh? We lived in South Florida (more bugs, hotter weather, more rain trying to rot out your veggie's roots) and were still able to grow tons of tomatoes (enough for our family PLUS neighbors), peppers, zucchini, carrots to boot etc. etc. We did this all with the local soil amended with tons of manure from our two horses. We started with a huge lawn full of weeds and it took many months to choke out the weeds by combining layers of cardboard and manure on top of each other and just letting the combo cut off sunlight to the weeds underneath - it also enriched the soil in the process. Bugs? There are bugs EVERYWHERE - according to you nobody would be able to grow anything without mass murder using pesticides and fungicides. Yet, we never sprayed anything other then neem oil (rarely at that) and had a full garden the whole time. We also grew lettuce to boot, chard, mustard and beans just fine.

Self-sufficiency is NOT a sham, definitely. I agree that magazines like Mother Earth News make it look "pretty" (which it ain't) - in reality it is hard work but so is going to the cubicle EVERY DAY and sitting in traffic like a goat waiting for slaughter.

By the way, all our neighbors used pesticides and other chemical crap for their lawn. Guess whose house was the only one with tons of toads (eating bugs) and other wildlife?

Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
I have the greatest respect for people who have the time and ability and money to tend large gardens, buy canning jars, and can at home. I also know for a fact that it is NOT sustainable in the way the glossy magazines claim, and I can buy a can of beans for 50 cents, which is about 1/3rd the documented cost of growing my own. I'd rather put my time and money elsewhere. Besides, I can repurpose the used can.
Blah. Do you know how the beans were grown in the can? You are talking about a run of the mill, conventionally grown can of beans. Last time I looked, a can of organic beans was on the order of $1.50-$2.00. Your time and money are your time and money. A lot of Americans put them elsewhere (staring at the 6 foot TV for 4 hrs a night, living in a 2,000 sqft house they are toiling to pay off when in fact they could have lived in a 1,000 sqft home, paying off some GC to build them a shoddy home built out of unsustainable wood transported from 3,000 miles away, covered in arsenic and leaching chemicals into their environment for the next 10 years etc. etc. Just because people are lazy, incompetent or afraid to try, does not justify their stupid actions fueled by ignorance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Fifteen and sixteen are prime ages for people to resonate with stuff they see written and believe it, no matter how impractical. I know. BTDT. Sustainable and back to the land in the U.S.? You should take a look at a photo of my cousin (same age as me) who inherited the family farm, and then one of me. What a difference a few decades make.
My grandpa is 91 and lived on a farm his whole life. His father lived on a farm all his life and died at the age of 105 when he fell off a carriage and broke his neck. In fact, most OLD people I know lived in unspoiled environments with clean lifestyles. Most OLD Americans I know that spent the majority of their lives in the city, commuting and sitting in cubicles and being slaves to the mortgage and debt, have all sorts of poor lifestyle, contaminated diet and stress induced heart problems, diabetes, Alzheimers etc. They also take 8 pills a day that need to be different colors so they don't get confused.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
If you want to see real attempts at self-sufficiency, talk with a few peace corps volunteers. Buying your Troy-bilt tiller and hoping that it lasts your lifetime or is ecologically sound is foolish even if you ignore the gas and oil it uses. Many of my neighbors used to work in cotton fields with a big sack dragging on the ground behind them, and hoeing with hoes so used the blades were paper thin. The closer to the land and self-sufficiency you get, the greater the toll on your body.
How much land do you need to sustain a family of 2, 3 or 4? You don't need to till a huge acreage - we did our gardens manually. I think you are thinking like a "big farmer". I also think you don't really know what you are talking about or have an agenda behind what you are saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
It IS important to know how to grow your own food. If you eat meat, it IS important to at least go through the process of killing and gutting a few chickens. Those are part of knowing just what is required to survive on earth and acting responsibly. If you can't stomach that, how about going to the reference section of a library, pulling a July 1917 National Geographic and reading about the "Fearful Famines of the Past" that occurred prior to the green revolution. Cannibalism was a common part of being "self-sufficient" after crop failures and during drouth. It happened on every continent and in just about every civilization.
I knew at some point you will come to the "killing part". The OP can be a vegetarian and be perfectly healthy and content knowing no blood is on her/his hands. We have layer chickens and they will never end up in the freezer.

You may want to get yourself better educated. For starters, read Joel Salatin's books (this is also a recommendation to the OP).

OD
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