Self-reliance has always been an important skill; for many throughout history, the ability to be self-sufficient made the difference between life and death. These days, with every commodity readily available, it can be hard to understand why self-reliance is still relevant, let alone important.
Without going into any doomsday scenario where some kind of collapse would remove the things that have become many people’s life lines – things such as gas, electric, and water fed to our houses, or food in our shops – there are many less drastic situations where one could need or just want to become more self-reliant. Nothing in this world is guaranteed. Things can change very quickly. Stock markets crash, you could become unemployed, your town could have a blackout, you could get lost on a holiday hike, or your local store could simply run out of your favorite food or product. If you’re looking at things from a financial perspective, the more you can do yourself, the less you have to pay others to do things for you. Overall, it stands to reason that the more independent you can be the better off you are and the better quality of life you can enjoy overall.
Becoming independent is not an overnight switch, but everything has to start somewhere. There are small steps you can take today that could change your life, or even save your life, further down the road. We’ve put together a list of some examples of ways anyone can add to their self-reliance skill set.
This first one is more of a mindset change to begin with, but the results can be very practical indeed. We have found the more we embrace the idea of simplicity, the more ways we can see ways of reducing our reliance on a plethora things. This is not a rule to stop you from enjoying what is available to you, but rather a reminder to: enjoy, don’t rely on.
Invest in books
No matter what happens if you have books available you can find the information you need. If the Internet goes down, if power goes off, you may not be able to get your information from your computer however if you have a good collection of books; reference and good literature, you will always have both entertainment and instruction.
Learn new skills
There are so many basic self-sufficiency skills that many people have yet to learn. Many can be enjoyable pastimes with amazingly useful benefits if needed.
Our top suggestions are:
- food preservation (canning, fermentation)
- sewing (or knit, crochet, or even spin wool)
- carpentry (so you can build shelter, furniture, or simply carve spoons)
- soap making (you’d be surprised how many cleaning and hygiene products can be made from a bar of soap and a couple of additions like baking soda or essential oils)
- learning plant uses (herbal medicine, building materials, fuel)
- animal care (how to milk a cow, shear a sheep, handle a horse, or keep chickens or bees)
- tend a garden (grow herbs, vegetables, fruit; learn seed saving, water collection, composting)
- mechanics (fix your own car, build off grid power supplies)
Invest in reusable items
It’s staggering how much a household can throw away. Investing in reusable items can save the environment – as well as you – if you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t get hold of your disposable product. Here are some examples:
- paper cups/plates
- disposable BBQ’s
- paper towels
- non-rechargeable batteries
- shopping bags
- feminine hygiene products
Use hand tools
Battery operated or electric tools are great until you lose power and need to fix something. You can find handsaws, planes, augers, post hole diggers and other tools for pennies at garage sales. But don’t just think fixing tools, get a hand grinder for your coffee beans, use a knife instead of the food processor, build yourself a solar dehydrator, get a kettle that can go on a fire if needs be, sweep your floor instead of hoovering it; there are plenty ways anyone can be less reliant on electrical tools.
Keep a first aid kit
And make sure you know how to use it. Learning about medicinal herbs is an amazing skill that can come in handy on a regular basis, but could be life-saving if you’re ever without a doctor or pharmacy. But even if you don’t want to go that far, keeping a well stocked first aid kit with ready made products is really important.
Learn to forage and hunt
Berries, herbs, and other wild edibles are commonplace across the countryside. Learning to forage for wild foods can provide a tasty treat, and save your life in an emergency.
Hunting is another way to get food, and other animal parts that can be used for warmth, or even tool building. We know there are many out there who will find this idea distressing, and we’re not telling you to go out and start killing things unnecessarily, but having some basic knowhow can help even if you don’t want to kill an animal, for example roadkill could provide an emergency meal, but you need to know how to skin and gut it.
Whether you use your knowledge to become the expert bbq starter, or stop yourself from freezing or starving to death, the ability to make fire is an essential skill.
Consider alternative energy
It’s easier than ever to get a few solar panels installed, something that can not only provide you with basic power in a black out but can even provide you with a small income if you tie into the grid and your usage is lower than your electricity production. There are plenty of plans out there for solar, wind, and hydro power production. Or easier yet, DIY passive solar heaters and hot water. In some situations you could even drill a well for your own water supply. All of these things are useful for reducing your dependence and money expenditure.
This can be done whether you’re using your new found skills of canning or whether you’re buying dry storage foods in bulk. Either way, having a surplus of food items in case of emergency could really save the day.
Instead of depending on a store or a stranger use your friends and family as your resources. Trade fresh eggs for some extra garden produce from a friend. Learn skills from your friends that you want or need to know. Teach your neighbors too. This can be a great asset and also a lovely way to get to know your community.
Learn to conserve
Although you might not need to right now, there may be a time in the future where you will need to survive on less. So find ways around your home to use less water or discover items that will help you use less electricity. And as a bonus, you’ll be helping the environment too!