Sustainable living: 4 tips for a self-sufficient, eco-friendly home
We’re all looking for ways to make our lifestyles a little greener these days. And one way to achieve that is by becoming more self-sufficient. In this blog post, Hayley Baddiley from Denby Pottery shares four easy ways to incorporate sustainable and self-sufficient practices into your lifestyle.
Here in the UK, we’re fortunate enough to have easy access to all the conveniences of modern life. With supermarkets open round the clock and fast online delivery on hand, it’s never been simpler to find exactly what we need at short notice. But, that does have one unfortunate side effect: we’re becoming less and less self-sufficient.
During the past year, many of us were caught short by bare supermarket shelves and the sudden increase in online delivery times. We realised just how dependent we are on shops to provide everyday essentials and food, and how precarious this way of living can be. As a result, many people began to think about how they might become more self-sufficient.
Being self-sufficient means producing more of your own food and essentials at home, as well as finding ways to make the things you already own go further. It can be very rewarding, especially as you’ll be making your lifestyle more sustainable and eco-friendly, too.
Here, I’ll be sharing some simple changes you can make to become more self-sufficient.
Get Growing — Both Indoors & Out
If you want to start living in a more self-sufficient way, growing your own produce is one of the best things you can do. This will reduce your reliance on store-bought veg, which often needs to travel long distances, and they’re sometimes grown using chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Plus, nothing tastes better than freshly harvested seasonal produce, especially when you’ve grown it yourself.
If you plan your garden carefully, you can have some fresh veg growing almost all year round, from summer veg — such as tomatoes or courgettes — right through to winter staples, such as parsnips and cabbages. Plus, many herbs and plants can be grown indoors on a windowsill or other bright spot in your kitchen.
When creating your indoor kitchen garden, choose stylish ceramic pots over plastic versions, as these will last much longer and look much more stylish. Or, think outside the box and re-style your old cups, bowls, or dishes into beautiful little containers for micro herbs or salad greens, such as watercress and chard.
Get Into Home Composting
Making your own compost is an easy, eco-friendly way to re-use kitchen scraps and paper waste, such as cardboard cartons. Not only will this reduce the amount of waste you’re sending to landfill, but you’ll be left with a rich, organic compost that you can use to feed your lawn and garden.
Although many people think composting at home is difficult, the recipe is simple: all you need is raw (not cooked) food leftovers, garden waste, and air. Get the ingredients and quantities right, and nature will take care of the rest. If you have a larger garden, a compost bin or turner may be a good investment for you.
Compost is rich in nutrients and organisms that are very beneficial to plants. So, once your organic compost is ready, be sure to use it to improve the soil in your kitchen garden, for healthier, bigger, and tastier homegrown vegetables!
Adopt Low-Waste Kitchen Habits
As the old saying goes: waste not, want not. By taking steps to ensure nothing is wasted, you can reduce the amount of new products and produce you need to buy, helping you to become more self-sufficient. There are a number of easy ways to do this:
- Follow the “stem to leaf” principle: This is where you try to use up every part of each ingredient, so nothing edible is wasted. For example, you could try boiling scraps or peelings into a rich vegetable stock, adding parmesan rinds to sauces and soups to add flavour, or using the rind from a freshly squeezed lemon as a zesty flavouring for a cake or preserve. Almost all edible ingredients can be re-used in some way, so do a bit of research online to find recipe ideas before you throw anything away!
- Buy in bulk where you can: You’re less likely to be caught short if you have a well-stocked pantry. Plus, buying large quantities of non-perishable ingredients reduces the amount of resources, packaging, and transport needed per item, so it’s much more eco-friendly. For example, instead of picking up a tin of chickpeas each time you shop, buy a big bag of died chickpeas that can be soaked overnight.
- Reduce packaging waste: When buying food, try to visit zero-waste shops or markets that allow you to bring your own containers to help reduce packaging waste. This also means you can use more attractive containers. A ceramic storage jar looks much better than plastic packaging.
- Compost organic waste instead of throwing it away: Not only will this reduce the amount of waste that you’re sending to landfill, but it will feed your compost heap, helping make your garden more self-sufficient. Stash compostable raw food waste and shredded card in a small caddy or bin somewhere in your kitchen, as this will cut down the number of trips you need to make to the garden.
Buy Quality Homeware & Cookware That Will Last
For a truly eco-conscious, sustainable, and self-sufficient kitchen, it’s always best to choose high-quality cookware and tableware that will last. Investing in good non-stick cookware will mean you don’t need to use as much oil or fat, further cutting down on food waste. You also won’t need to use greaseproof paper or foil to stop foods from sticking during cooking, which further reduces waste and makes you more self-sufficient.
When shopping for dinnerware and homeware, look for high-quality, durable ceramics in timeless styles that will stand the test of time. This way, you won’t need to keep replacing them every couple of years because they’ve chipped or fallen out of fashion. Where possible, I would also recommend shopping British-made products, as these won’t have as far to travel, and are likely to be of a higher quality.
The key to self-sufficiency is finding versatile items that can be used again in countless different ways. For example, freezer-, oven- and microwave-safe bowls and dishes can be used for baking, storing, and eating. This means they function as cookware, serveware, and a storage container, all rolled into one, removing the need for lots of different items. Ceramic jugs can double as vases, or even be used to store utensils. It’s all about finding ways to get the most of out of your homeware.
Becoming more self-sufficient can be incredibly rewarding, and it will help make your home more sustainable, too. Try following a few of the tips I’ve shared above, and you should be able to start living in a more self-sufficient, eco-conscious way.