Not everyone has the resources to build an underground bunker and fill it with all the supplies needed to survive every possible scenario and not everyone wants to. However, everyone can learn to be more self-reliant. Some of the steps to self-reliance are easy, some are harder and some are very difficult but worth the effort.
Not everything about prepping needs to be difficult, expensive or focused on doomsday.
- The Bug-Out Bag. Every member of the family should have a preparedness bag that contains 3 days’ worth of food, water, some cash, a list of emergency numbers, necessary prescription medications and other supplies. Ready.gov provides a checklist for a basic emergency kit. If you love your pets build a bug-out bag for them too. Learn more about disaster preparedness for pets at ASPCA.org.
- Avoiding Debt. It’s tempting to use credit cards or borrowed money to purchase prepping supplies, but that’s not a self-reliant practice. Risking my family’s financial well-being today to prepare for a future emergency that may never come isn’t a sound plan. Instead I focus on preparedness techniques that help save money which I can later use to purchase necessary supplies.
A Little Harder
Self-reliance takes effort, sometimes learning new skills or adopting new habits is necessary.
- Gardening. Whether you have a 10-acre plot or 1 sunny window sill growing at least some of your own food is a big step toward self-reliance. Growing food saves money, decreases our dependence on food factories and grocery stores, ensures our food is healthy, unmodified and chemical-free and it’s fun. If you’re fortunate enough to have prep-minded neighbors plan a community garden or divide your crops. For example, you might grow enough tomatoes for 2 or 3 families and trade them for squash and beans that someone else grew an abundance of.
- Food Storage. Storing large quantities of food is the natural next step after learning to garden. What are you going to do with 10 bushels of tomatoes now that you’ve grown them? Home canning is enjoying a resurgence because it’s practical and easier than many people think. But canning isn’t the only method to consider; dehydrated and frozen foods are an important addition to the overall pantry. Food storage isn’t just a summer activity. In the summer I make jellies, pickles and can tomatoes, in the fall I dry apples and make fruit leathers, in the winter when I cook chili or soups I make extra-large batches and can or freeze the leftovers. By taking a seasonal approach to food storage you can take better advantage of what’s abundant, and cheaper, at the farmer’s market, grocery store or your own backyard garden.
Difficult but Worth It
Though they may save money and make you more independent in the long run, initial investment of time or resources for advanced self-reliance practices can be high.
- Going Solar. Installing solar panels on your home allows you to live “off the grid” even if you’re in the middle of the city. Converting a home to run on solar energy is an investment that pays off now in the form of lowered energy bills and in the knowledge that you’re doing something great for the environment.
- Hunting. If you’re family relies on meat for its main source of protein learning to hunt is a big step towards self-reliance. Wild game is often a healthier choice than ranch-raised animals—no added hormones, 100-percent organically fed and nothing added during processing. And no worries about whether or not the animal was treated ethically while alive. Hunting to put meat on the table isn’t about owning the biggest, best rifle or dressing in designer camo, it’s an honorable way to provide food for your family.
Striving to life in a more sustainable, self-reliant way is a win-win proposition. Sustainability means you’re conserving resources, saving money and living a simpler life. Each step we take towards a more self-reliant life makes the next step easier to accomplish. By making small but consistent changes toward self-reliance you’ll be amazed at how much more independent and satisfying your life can be.