When we first began this Homestead Experiment, one of our biggest questions was how, exactly, were we going to accomplish this while living in a suburban environment – one where we have limitations like no bees, goats, chickens, turkeys, or pigs?? What else is involved in this homesteading thing?
At times this summer it felt very much like we were just trying to maintain a garden. Nothing more, nothing less. But when it got down to it, we realized there are certainly other things we’re doing that we would consider to be part of our homesteading adventure.
So, here are 8 steps to (sub)urban homesteading:
I was putting my recycle bin out at the curb this week and after glancing up and down the street (because I didn’t want any neighbors to catch me outside in my jammies!) I realized we were one of only two houses on the entire street with recycle bins. Sure it’s not a self-sufficient practice per se. But it definitely lines up with the homesteaders mantra to “waste nothing.”
2. Unplug Unused Items
We’re as guilty as anyone on this one. We leave the iron plugged in when we’re done ironing, for goodness sake. At least…we used to. Any electronic that is plugged in is using power whether it is turned on or not. Even if you’re not an “off-the-grid” homesteader, you can cut back on your electricity use by unplugging that lamp in the guest room, the rarely used second TV, or your empty cellphone charger.
3. Use Less Utilities
The suburban lifestyle comes with some unwritten rules, no? Well, try these on for size: hang or drip dry your clothes. Turn your air off and open your windows. Or just raise the pre-set temps a little higher if that’s too extreme for you (HA!). Use a crock pot instead of the oven. Take a bath instead of a shower. Get a rain barrel rather than relying on your hose to water. Don’t water your lawn (you might get some nasty looks. Just sayin’.)
4. Skip the Meat
Seriously. We would love to be able to afford to eat 100% organic, free range, hormone free, grass-fed meat anytime we wanted. But we can’t. And since we can’t take the typical homesteaders route of raising our own meat, our suburban alternative is to skip the meat all together every once in a while. You should try my Thai Butternut Squash Soup or Russian Lentils and Rice !
5. Go to the Library
Yes, we consider this a key homesteader step. This lifestyle is about spending less, consuming less, and simplifying our lives. Rather than buying books or magazines, or going to movies, or even renting movies – check your local library for great reads, and DVDs to watch at home with your family. And what better by-product could there be than having quality family time??
6. Master the Art of Upcycling
A t-shirt can become a cleaning rag. Or it can be turned into a cute scarf (Thanks Pinterest!). Use a mason jar as a drinking glass. Or as a soap dispenser. Save a plastic milk jug and turn it into a watering can. Upcycling is a major part of the suburban homesteader’s lifestyle.
7. Make Your Own
We’ve already posted about this: we make our own laundry detergent, bread, yogurt, and peanut butter. We’d love to begin making our own cheese, sew some of our own clothes, and even build a furniture piece or two that we’ve been wanting. (“patience young grasshopper…”)
8. Think Like a Homesteader
Homesteading is not a “live in the moment” lifestyle. You plan. For everything. Think ahead to what you need. For your garden, for your home, for your clothing, for winter, for summer, for everything. Live on a budget. Stop the unnecessary spending. Develop convictions. Educate yourself. Make intentional choices about what you will do with your money. And follow through, of course! 🙂
So, what else would you add to our list?