When I was growing up, we learned that getting a good job, making money, and starting a family was the epitome of happiness. As I grew older, I didn’t find that to be so true. Most “good jobs” still exploit their employees sucking their energy for a more efficient money making machine while not compensating them properly. This greed feeds their dreams while sinking our own into the ocean–a selfish circle of capitalism. How much the majority of people value money over being a decent human being became clear. After realizing how much that stress impacted me and having to visit the ER from intestinal pains, I knew things had to change and fast! When I started looking within and being responsible for every aspect in my life is when it all started to change but it required awareness of the truth.
The very foundation of what drives our current society is backwards. We must make money to pay for water, food, fuel, rents, and the endless amount of things we are told to want. Cutting right to the source, a spark came to my mind. What do we really need to live? Shelter. Food. Water. The rest is what we chose to fill our time but those three things essentially control our every day. Most lower and middle class citizens spend their day making money to pay for their housing, food, water, and bills. We pay for gas to get to work so we can eat horrible food that makes us unhealthy. Thereafter, you get to go home (unless you work from home) and spend the rest of your time decompressing from the work you feel enslaved to. No escape in sight, just endless work until your retirement years without any sign of a healthy balance. The more money you make, the less exposed to these truths you become which gives us great insight into how things got to be *gestures at everything* like this.
After the immense urbanization of our lands started, we realized these houses were created in an efficient “build it fast and not correctly” fashion. Most houses aren’t properly oriented towards the sun for heating or cooling in winter and summer and the materials create poor insulation. Our houses require mass amounts of electricity to stay warm or cool enough to be comfortable producing huge stress on our electrical grid. This requires the burning of more fuels to keep up with increasing demands of temporary comfort. It didn’t need to be this way but it was cheaper!
The food we eat has been grown so fast with fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics that it’s reduced the level of nutrients in them. Normally, these nutrients are introduced into the soil by decomposing organic matter and the flow of water. As we ploow fields every year and don’t allow any organic material to naturally fertilize lands by rotating fields, crops, and animals; we must add those nutrients to be able to grow anything. That indicates the start of unhealthy soil and an unsustainable system. The entire foundation of the direction our society has taken is one corrupted by the greed for money. Money, in how we see it currently, renders control of energy. Breaking away from that control requires self sufficiency.
How many people know what water treatment plant supplies their water? Have you tested that water to see if it is as it has been reported? In 2010, I found discrepancies in the Nitrate levels in Salisbury, MD water system that was confirmed by the Biology teacher at the school. The water report in June 2010 stated a 5ppm Nitrate level in the tap water. A biology professor at SU tested the water and noted 33.8ppm of Nitrate (28ppm higher than reported and only 7ppm lower than the legal limit) our of the tap. When confronted by this information at the water treatment center, they had no idea. This biology teacher was doing studies on how remarkably fast the algae grows in water with high nitrate in the river water in Salisbury, MD. This is one of the reasons the Chesapeake and many other areas see large algae blooms. These nutrients come from over farming in the area and run off from rain going into the rivers containing fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and many other chemicals. These in turn add to the materials that feed bacteria further increasing the levels of nitrogen in the water helping increase the intensity of these algae blooms.
What kind of power plant is responsible for keeping your lights on? How far does your food travel creating more green houses gases just to get to you? The list of questions goes on if you keep asking.
We turned this world from wilderness to what we call “civilized”, but in reality we have just created our own worst nightmare. Our aggressive farming techniques have eroded soil quality where the food doesn’t have as many nutrients creating sand like soil rather than rich organic matter. Have many people taken a look at how dry those California fields are?! These techniques have abused the land pushing away critical indigenous creatures responsible for maintaining our ecosystem. Our cities also created giant washes where water runs rather than seeping into the grounds eliminating the recuperation of our underground water aquifers which has also leads to flooding in many areas and droughts in others. We sought to just build and expand instead of actually thinking about the consequences of how we do that. It’s just as important how you get to your goal as it is to achieve it.
In the journey to live a self sufficient life where we can catch our own water, grow our own food, capture electricity at the source; I’ve found many answers. First, we started shopping organic as those foods are grown through a more natural process that helps retain nutrients in the soil without adding as many foreign chemicals. We can then start farming our own fruits and vegetables by turning our grass lawns into food gardens and forests. Also, supporting local small organic farms is always beneficial. Our second step was to stop buying bottled water. We use a four step filtration system in our trailer first removing chlorine and heavy metals and then going into filtering any other contaminants in the water (One step shy of an R.O. system, coming soon). We then add trace nutrients to increase the beneficial aspects of our water. Later on we plan to catch our own water once we have land to work with. Our third step has been to utilize solar energy in our home reducing our imprint on the electric grid. Eventually, we want to expand to being fully off-grid once we have enough panels and other alternative renewable energy sources.
Now let’s take these ideas and compile them together to start getting a picture of what this looks like. What if you had no electric, water, gas, or food bill? How much more money would you be saving? That’s how I thought about it. We are currently in search for a small plot of land to start building a small version of our permaculture farm and self sustaining home. Only paying for land and doing labor to establish the rest, we will be taking you along our journey as we start to setup our dream self sufficient lifestyle. We will be starting some write ups on our search for land, planning and architecture, construction, implementation, and then show the end results. There are also many examples of people already doing these things throughout the entire world. Let’s start thinking smarter rather than working harder.