The general aim of these pages is help people, especially individuals and families in Qld, find information to help them live a more "self-sufficient" lifestyle. Whether they're interested in environmental sustainability, are concerned about the stability of our current society or just want to save money, they are sure to find something of interest in these pages.
In these pages "self sufficiency" will will be used as a general term to cover strategies that can help people:
1. become less dependant on outside resources (e.g. money, services)
2. make more use of their own resources (e.g. backyards, rainfall, sunshine, knowledge, personal time)
Complete self sufficiency may not be possible (or even desirable) for most people in the modern world, but almost anyone can become more self sufficient than they are now, and enjoy the many practical and personal benefits that can result. More about these pages...
In the suburbs
What you can do in the suburbs is much more limited than on a country property. Space is obviously the biggest limitation. Manure, soils, mulching materials and other bits and pieces are likely to be harder to come by in the city, and can be quite expensive if you have to buy them. Then there are the neighbours to consider, and urban planning regulations.
There are some advantages to the city life, however. A whole range of services are close by in addition to the support network of friends and family. Furthermore, you could comfortably live without the burden of owning a vehicle, with a bit of forethought and planning.
Something anyone can do is reassess their lifestyle to save money, use time more effectively and have a lower impact on the environment. These might seem like sacrifices at first, but you'll likely have a more interesting and fulfilled life as a result, not to mention better off financially.
If your major motivation for looking into self-sufficiency is to save money, there's almost certainly a whole host of things you can do to cut costs without planting a seed. And you can start immediately.
The most difficult thing may be just a change of mindset - replacing feelings of deprivation (even over very trivial, superficial things) and worrying about what other people think with the positive feelings that come from taking control over your life without fear of the next bill or interest rate rise.
There are lots of websites out there offering money saving tips. Here are few, to get you started:
Grow your own food
If you want to take the self-sufficiency concept further, the next step for most people will be growing their own food. This is something that can be started in a very small way, so expense or lack of experience shouldn't be a barrier to having a go.
Herbs are a good way to start - they can look attractive in containers and don't take up much space. Even apartment dwellers can probably find a spot fro a few potted herbs. If you think that this doesn't represent very much food, consider that they can be used to add the gourmet touch to basic dishes made from budget ingredients. This is more "self sufficient" than premade sauces, frozen meals, or takeaway.
Food gardening even on this small scale also has value as a pastime (compare the cost of some other diversions) and for the sense of achievenment to can give.
Depending on the amount of space and time you have at your disposal, you can gradually expand your food-growing activites to fruit and vegetables in containers, in-ground vegetable gardens, fruit trees and even small animals like chickens. More about this on the Gardening and farming page.
Access to sufficient water is one of the biggest limitations to growing a productive garden in Australia. Drought and an ever-growing population has led to increasing water restrictions in urban areas across Australia, making watering from the mains expensive, inconvenient, and sometimes impossible. So, becoming at least partly self-sufficient in water is going to be necessary if you want to maximise backyard food production. The cost versus the returns will obviously need to be consiered. More on water here: Water.
Becoming less dependant on grid-provided energy is quite easy to achieve these days, especially in sunny Australia. Solar hot water systems have been around for a long time, and now electricity-generating solar panels are becoming more popular. While developments in new technology will hopefully bring the costs down in the future, these are still an expensive item. However, you can start implementing energy-saving strategies straight away. This is discussed further on Home Energy.
Reducing your dependance on the car, even getting rid of it altogether, has many benefits. Transportation is discussed on the Home and Lifestyle.
Living a self-suffiency lifestyle is going to be easier in a home that has been designed for that purpose. "Green buildings" are becoming more popular but a relative minority of use have the opportunity to start from scratch. However, you migth consider the options for making your current home more sustainable "retrofitting", especially if you were going to do renovations anyway. More here: Building.
The following links have been provided for insiration and ideas, to get you started. The particulars will, of course, depend on where you live and the conditions there. More information on specific topics is given on the relevant subject pages (see menu at left)
If you want to search for more information on your own, try using key phrases like "self sufficiency", "off grid", "homesteading" and "survivalist". However, a great deal of the information will be from cold climates, so there's a lot of emphasis on staying warm and preserving food over the winter. Depending on where you are in Australia, summer cooling, bushfires, drought and pests of many types are a preoccupation.
UK-based site about reducing dependance on mains water and power and related issues. Many interesting, positive stories
lots of tips and ideas for simpler living at this blog
Arid Lands Newsletter
Office of Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona. A variety of issues covered in the archived issues.
Treechanger / Treechangee
A page intended for Australians looking for opportunities to move to the country and for communities that are actively seeking people to move to their district. View here:|
If you have little or no space to garden, you might like to investigate the Landshare Australia scheme, in which others who have land but not the ability or time to garden share with others who do. Community Gardens are another option.|