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Defining Sustainable Living: It Not As Easy As It Sounds

What is Sustainable Living? This is actually rather hard to define, since it has become rather “buzz wordish” and used to describe everything from raising chickens to embracing what are considered lost arts like knitting and hand sewing.

So in an attempt to help define this term, a survey was conducted among farmers, people who term themselves homesteaders, preppers and teachers of lost arts. These are some of the answers:

“It's more than just closing the permaculture circle and building a compost pile. Sustainable living means choosing a healthy lifestyle that will remain viable to the end. Relationships, finances, health, it ALL needs to be sustainable ,not just our food production systems.”

“For us it isn't so much "reducing our foot print" as it learning how to make do with what we have and not trying to keep up with the Joneses. Living within or means and with what is healthy for us.”

“Sustainable living is a lifestyle you can establish and keep going to "sustain" yourself and your family without outside inputs. For instance, stored food lasts only so long so having a means to generate your own would make replacing the food you consume sustainable. Same goes for energy, water, clothing, etc.”

Others emphasized being able to do it all on your own without the need for outside support or influence, while still others made it clear that it is not always possible to do it all on your own, and that a community is needed.

For the purposes of this column, all aspects of what is considered sustainable living will be discussed, with an emphasis on the three core aspects of permaculture - caring for the earth, caring for people, and the return of surplus, also viewed as “fair share”.

Topics we will touch on include:

  • Learning to cook from scratch and economically sound recipes – eating well on a budget.
  • The “lost arts” – sewing, knitting, crocheting, woodcraft, woodworking, pottery, weaving, spinning, blacksmithing – the things our ancestors did and that we can still do today to help make our lives easier.
  • Home and auto repair.
  • Camping and other survival topics.
  • High altitude gardening
  • Animal husbandry.
  • Canning and food preservation
  • Learning to live within a budget.
  • Homesteading and what that means, and discussions with people who have fully embraced life off the grid.
  • Alternative energy
  • Urban homesteading
  • Healthy living and eating
  • DIY projects of all sorts
  • Recycling

As you can see, the list is nearly endless, the topic broad and encompassing all aspects of life. This column will offer book reviews, how to columns and videos, interviews, recipes, patterns and resources to help you lead a simpler, happier, healthy life.

Please do feel free to suggest topics at any time, and to ask any questions! And Happy sustainable living, Denver!

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