Thursday, October 30, 2014

Living Green Starts at Home

You may have gotten the impression that living green involves some sort of enormous campaign that will take all of your time and cost you lots of money traveling all over the globe. While that may be a dream of some conservationists, you can live a green lifestyle in your own home. In fact, it begins here - those who find a niche in going green in their own lifestyles may branch out and become eco-consultants or other professionals in the field of environmental conservation.

Here are some tips for implementing a green lifestyle at home.

The Kitchen

A dishwasher containing clean dishes
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is where you cook, use appliances, and wash hands and dishes. The kitchen may be where you eat, too. So this is a good place to start with your green lifestyle.

* Save water in the kitchen by not pre-rinsing dishes and only running the dishwasher when it's full. If you have to pre-rinse (some dishwashers just can't handle non-rinsed dishes), then do so in a sink half-full of water. Scrub and rinse with the water off, and then load the dishwasher. You've only used half a sinkful of water to pre-rinse. You can also save water in the kitchen by washing produce in a pan of water.

* Appliance use is heavy in the kitchen, from the refrigerator to the stovetop. To save energy, you can combine the cooking of foods by baking more than one thing at the same time. On the stovetop, use residual heat where you can and place pots and pans on appropriately-sized stove eyes.

If possible, use energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen. And your parents were right - don't hold the refrigerator door open!

The Bedroom

In your bedroom, you can go green in some different ways.

* Use natural bedding such as cotton sheets without a lot of heavy dyes and deep colors.

* Place air-cleaning potted plants around your bedroom to purify the air. In kids' bedrooms, potted plants can also be implemented as long as they are out of reach of young children.

The Living Room

In your main living space, you can go green by using fans to cool the room in the summer and a space heater to boost the central heat in the winter. You can also:

* Set potted plants around for cleaner air.

* Cover windows with shades or curtains to keep out hot sunshine in the summer, and open them in the winter to help warm the room.

* Make use of natural light as much as possible. Position reading chairs and couches so that window light comes from behind, over the reader's shoulder. Use small lamps with CFLs and timers.

Peripheral Rooms

In rooms that are not being used, close vents to keep down heating and cooling costs and energy use. Make sure sunshine is not heating these rooms in the summer, and apply the same principle in reverse in the winter.

These are just some simple tips that you can use to live a greener lifestyle without spending any money at all! If you have other ideas, please comment below and share your tips!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Safe & Natural Home Improvements For An Eco-Friendly Remodel

We hope you enjoyed our beginning homesteading series! If you missed any of the posts, just look back over the past few weeks on our blog for lots of helpful homesteading tips for new homesteaders.

But maybe you're not looking to be a homesteader - you just want to live a healthier and more eco-friendly lifestyle. A great place to start is with your home. Got a kitchen that needs redoing, or a bathroom? Well, if you're thinking about making some green home improvements, then here are some tips to help you naturally improve your home in an eco-friendly way. Look for these things to not only save you money when doing the remodel, but also in the long run. And you will be able to feel good about what you have done both for your home and the environment.

1. Use sustainable lumber. Sustainable lumber is certified lumber which was harvested and transported using more sustainable practices. The harvesting process evaluation is achieved by checking how the trees were planted, grown, cut down, and then replanted to ensure the regrowth of the forest. 

Tracking the transport is the next step because it traces it back to the harvesting practices, so there is a guaranteed link between the sustainable harvesting practices and the final product. So look for the certification on the label of the lumber to make sure it came from the forests which are certified sustainable.

2. Use sealants, stains, caulks, and paint low in VOC's. VOC's are volatile organic compounds. Products that either have no VOC or low VOC are non-toxic and don't give off as many gases into the air around you.

English: Arts and Crafts: Reuse ideas: Salvage...
Reuse ideas: Salvaged single-pane wood frame window turned decor by painting the window and adding stencils. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
3. Use recycled materials. You can get recycled building materials from just about anywhere - from the paper on drywall being recycled to Masonite board, to crushed glass granite. Doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, and flooring can all be found at your local salvage yard. Or try a ReStore store from Habitat for Humanity if there's one in your area. 

You might not be able to find exactly what you had planned for your remodel. It's like shopping at Goodwill. You're limited to what's there, but you can also get some really great items for cheap that will make your home look great - and unique.

4. Shop local and small. Hit up the local mom and pop hardware store instead of Lowe's or Home Depot. There you can often find materials that are locally sourced instead of being shipped in from overseas. Made-in-America products are good for the environment because you are getting products which haven't been shipped from halfway around the world.

Think of all the carbon used in shipping something from the other side of the world! When you shop locally, not only are you helping local homegrown businesses - it's also better for the environment.

English: Water heater Atmor in line.
In-line (tankless) water heater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
5. Replace old appliances with Energy Star certified appliances. You'll save money and the environment as well by using energy efficient appliances. Change over that hot water heater, the furnace, refrigerator, dishwasher, and stove to energy efficient appliances when you do your upgrades. Or go for a tank-less water heater.

Do your research on the appliances to see what will give you the most savings on your energy bills. You'll be glad you did, if for nothing else than for the money savings you'll see on your energy bills.

So now you know what to look for with building products when it comes time for home improvements. Make natural home improvements yourself and it will cost you less and save you money over time. Plus you will increase your home value, and make it look and feel unique.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Video: Budget-Saving Tips for New Homesteaders

This short video offers a number of helpful tips for beginning homesteaders - particularly ways to save money when you are starting out, as well as some tips for making sure you are focusing on the areas of homesteading that you enjoy and can be successful at.

We hope you've enjoyed our series on beginning homesteading! For more helpful green living resources, be sure to visit our website, and also "Like" us on Facebook for weekly green living tips.

Check out the video below, and for more great homesteading resources, also see

How to start homesteading (the smart way)
Homesteading can be so exciting at first that you can get ahead of yourself. Here are a few tips to help you save money, energy, time, and sanity.

self sufficient life

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

3 Steps Every Homesteader Must Take Before they Get Started

Before you start digging in your yard or shopping for chickens, stop. Take a step back and put down the shovel. There are three important steps to take before you dive into homesteading. These three steps will help you create the homesteading lifestyle you desire.

1. Set Priorities

Goat and kids on Mayreau in the Grenadines.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What are your homesteading priorities? Do you want to conserve energy, produce most of your vegetables, or raise animals? Make a list of all of the homesteading projects you’re interested in and why you’re interested in them. For example, maybe you’re interested in raising goats because they’re adorable and you would like goat milk and goat cheese. Or maybe you’re interested in growing all of your own vegetables so you can raise a healthier family. Establish your priorities. When you get started with homesteading you can start with the most important item on your list first and go from there.

2. Make A Plan

Once you’ve established your priorities, the next step is to create a plan. This plan can and should include everything from materials to systems and a timeline. For example, if you’re going to start raising chickens then how and when are you going to build a coop? Where will you buy your chickens from and what type of chickens are you going to buy? Plan ahead so you don’t miss any steps.

3. Assess Your Space

The final component of your new homesteading lifestyle is to identify the place and space. For example, if you’re going to build a chicken coop where are you going to put it? Is that the best place for a coop and do you have enough space? Also, if you build the coop and you want to build a garden next year, do you have the space for them both? Thinking about these considerations beforehand will save you costly mistakes down the road.

Homesteading is a rewarding and fun lifestyle. It’s not an easy lifestyle but for tens of thousands of people, it’s a lifestyle they wouldn’t change for anything. The homesteading movement is growing in popularity and it might just be the best change you can make for yourself if this is something you're interested in pursuing.

More more helpful information on getting started with homesteading, check out the excellent resources at Self-Sufficient-Life

self sufficient life

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fun Ways to Improve Your Homesteading Skills

Homesteading is a lot of work. It’s a lot of fun too so it’s more than worth the effort. However, at a certain point you may feel a bit overwhelmed. You might not know where to start or how to approach homesteading without making costly mistakes. When you’re dealing with animals and expansive gardens, mistakes can sometimes be devastating. One of the wonderful aspects of homesteading is the community that it creates. Take advantage of that community and leverage it to improve your homesteading skills.

1. Take classes

Check with your community center and recreation facilities. There are likely some basic and intermediate homesteading classes. Local farms and fellow homesteaders may also offer the occasional class. These can be fantastic opportunities to learn more about homesteading, ask questions from experienced homesteaders, and meet more people in your community.

2. Volunteer

English: A community garden in Montreal, Canada
Volunteer in a community garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Another option to learn more about homesteading and improve your skills is to volunteer. You may have some community organized gardens and community organized homesteads. Consider reaching out to these organizations to find out if they have volunteer opportunities. It’s a great way to learn and give back at the same time.

3. Attend workshops

Many farms and community homesteads offer homesteading workshops. These workshops are often a few days in length and they can be an excellent opportunity to gain hands on learning as they’re often hosted at a farm. You can choose from basic homesteading workshops to specific workshops on more technical projects like aquaponics or installing a solar panel system.

When it comes to homesteading there is certainly room to learn as you go. However, some projects require a bit more technical knowledge and sometimes it’s just good to gain an education before you start a new project. Learn about homesteading by connecting with your community. Take classes, volunteer, and attend workshops on a wide variety of homesteading topics. Next time we’ll take a look at the three steps every new homesteader must take before they get started.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What You Need to Know About Homesteading In the City (Urban Homesteading)

Are you interested in homesteading but worried that you don’t have enough room? Gardening, raising animals, and alternative energy systems can take up some space. However, even people living in the middle of the city can take advantage of the space they have and embrace a kind of homesteading lifestyle. It’s called Urban Homesteading and it may be just the thing you’ve been looking for.

Gardening in Small Spaces

You don’t need acres to grow produce. What you do need, whether you have a small space or not, is a plan. Think about maximizing the space you have. For example, climbing plants like beans can be placed at the back or edge of your garden space where they can use the fence or wall to climb. Steer clear of plants that require lots of space like pumpkins or watermelon and instead look for plants that produce a lot of fruits or vegetables without requiring too much space. Tomatoes are a great example of a plant that has a high yield without taking up a ton of space and soil. Herbs can be grown in windowsills and on elevated planters too.

Doubling Up

An aquaponic system that involves tilapia or p...
An aquaponic system that involves tilapia or perch, watercress and tomatoes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are some opportunities to double up your homesteading activities. For example, you might farm fish and embrace hydroponic or aquaponic gardening. This is something you can place either inside or outside your home. Both greens and herbs grow quite successfully this way and what’s better than fish and a salad for dinner?

Get Creative with Your Space

Take a look at the space you have. Roof tops, window sills, fencing and patios and porches all provide a perfect space for gardening and more. In fact, many urban dwellers keep chickens in their back yard. All you need is space for a small coop.

Whether you’re in the city or in the country, homesteading is an acquired skill. You’ll learn as you go. Next time we’ll take a look at a few fun ways to improve your homesteading skills, so be sure to check back Thursday!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

5 Questions to Answer Before You Get Started Homesteading

Are you ready to get started with your homesteading lifestyle? It’s true, it offers numerous benefits including reduced monthly expenses, sustainable living, and a rewarding lifestyle. But before you get started there are five questions you need to answer.

1. How much space do you  have? – Homesteading doesn’t have to take up much space. Many urban homesteaders garden on their patio, roof, or in a small back yard. Take a look around you and evaluate how much space you have. Do you have enough room for what you want to grow?

2. Are animals allowed? If you’re interested in raising or keeping animals, it’s important to check your local zoning and ordinances first. Some communities don’t allow livestock to be kept. And some cities restrict the number or type of animal that you can keep. Even if you’re only interested in beekeeping, it’s important to know whether you will be able to do this where you live.

English: The greenhouse and the chicken coop a...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
3. Sustainability and systems – How will you make the most of your resources? For example, you might install a rain barrel to collect water for your garden. Can you use lumber and items you already have to build container gardens or a chicken coop?

4. What will you grow? The best advice is to grow what you eat. Make a list of the produce you buy most often at the supermarket. Cross off the items that don’t grow well in your area and review the list. Prioritize the list according to your available space.

5. What's the most important to you to start with? The best advice is to start small – There’s no need to run out and buy a hundred acres. You can start small with a few containers or a backyard garden. You can start a small bee colony or get a few chickens. Think about where you want to start and how quickly you want to grow your homesteading lifestyle. Think about what’s most important to you and what you can reasonably manage.

Starting homesteading is a fun and exciting project, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Taking the time to answer the 5 questions above, and prioritize, will make all the difference to your success.

Be sure to stay tuned, as next week, we’ll take a look at urban homesteading and offer some tips and ideas for bringing homesteading into your neighborhood - even if you don't live in the country.

self sufficient life

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Homesteading Is So Fulfilling

Is homesteading really considered the “simple life?” It’s certainly not an easy lifestyle. Many homesteaders spend long days tending to their garden, feeding and caring for their animals, and then they have to cook meals, prepare and preserve produce, and tend to the other 99 details in a regular day. Easy, no. Simple? Perhaps. But there is one common denominator, one phrase you’ll hear from homesteaders around the world, homesteading is rewarding.

Results from Hard Work

Your mother and father were right. You do get satisfaction from hard work. There really is nothing quite like eating a vegetable that you grew in your garden and tended to with your own two hands. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as wearing a sweater that you made yourself from yarn that you sheared off of your sheep. There are many tasks in life that are just plain tedious or difficult and there are no real tangible results. With homesteading you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor and that is incredibly rewarding - maybe more than anything else you can do in life.

You’re Making a Difference

A chicken coop.
A home-made chicken coop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The homesteading lifestyle does make a difference. It impacts the environment in a positive way. It also can change the economic conditions in your neighborhood. This is particularly true for urban homesteaders who build community gardens, chicken coops and more. They band together to create a better lifestyle for themselves and others. Even simply by sharing some of the produce you grow in your garden or sharing the strawberry preserves you made yourself you make a positive difference in the lives of those you share with.

It’s Empowering

We’ve become so dependent on commercial establishments to survive that when you cut the cord and realize that you can be self-reliant, it’s quite empowering. Some homesteaders dive right in. They get off the utility grid and provide their own energy. They begin growing most of the food they need for themselves and they quite literally live off the land. However, even if you don’t go to these homesteading lengths, you’ll find that homesteading makes you feel much more powerful and capable.

Ready to enjoy the positive experience that homesteading provides? Next time we’ll talk about how to get started.

self sufficient life

Thursday, October 2, 2014

3 Ways to Make Money from Homesteading

Did you know that you can take your homesteading lifestyle and actually build a business or career out of it? It’s true. There are many different ways that you can make money from homesteading. Let’s take a look at three of them. Who knows - you might turn your hobby farm into a full-fledged business!

1. Crafting and Home Goods

Many homesteaders find that they have more than enough materials to begin crafting. For example, if they are raising alpacas they find that they have extra yarn and might begin making clothing for friends and relatives.

They could just as easily begin selling the yarn or making items to order. Herbs can be made into essential oils, lotions, and even soap. For example, lavender plants make wonderful essential oils which can then be added to body products or sold as an oil.

2. Food Preparation and Preservation

English: The Preserves, Osmotherley Show
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sue had an abundance of Brussels sprouts one year from her garden. She decided to pickle them. Her recipe was so popular that Sue began selling her pickled sprouts online and at local Farmer’s Markets.

Her business expanded and she now pickles and sells many different types of veggies. Other people have had great success with homemade salsas, jams, and sauces all made from the items they’ve grown in their garden.

3. Teaching
As an experienced homesteader, you can make money teaching other people how to homestead. It’s a growing trend and lifestyle choice. Teaching, online or in local workshops or seminars, gives you an opportunity to help others and earn some extra cash at the same time.

Homesteading provides many opportunities to improve your lifestyle. Making money from it is just one extra benefit to consider. And while homesteading is profitable, environmentally sound, and it helps you save money many people homestead just because they like it. Next week we’ll take a look at the reasons why homesteading is rewarding and fulfilling.