Becoming self-sufficient can secure you against inflation rises, put you in touch with your local community and give you a greater appreciation of life - as well as saving you money. Here's how to move from being a consumer to being a producer.
By installing wind generators and/or solar panels on your property, you can cut down your electricity bills – and even make money by selling excess electricity back to the National Grid. The cost of installation can be high, but you can recoup the initial set-up costs after anything between five and 20 years, depending on how much you pay and how much electricity you can generate.
The Energy Saving Trust can provide advice along with grants and loans towards the installation of renewable energy. And if you run a business, the Carbon Trust can provide financial assistance with setting up low-carbon energy generation. You should also check with your local authority to see whether they offer incentives for installing solar panels or wind generators.
If you have your own garden or allotment, you could save around £1,300 a year on fruit and vegetables by growing them yourself, according to research from the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners, even if you live in an apartment, you might be able to gain access to a community garden, or grow vegetables on a balcony or windowsill. Growing your own food also has the added benefits of reducing your food’s carbon footprint, making you more in tune with nature and boosting the nutrients in the food you eat, as it will spend less time losing goodness during transportation and storage.
Alice Barrow and Tom Green turned their candle-making hobby into a successful business. But even if you don’t want to give up your day job, you could make your hobby pay for itself or even bring in a little extra cash towards the household bills. Whatever you’re into, from knitting to cake baking, there’s a local craft market where you could sell your goods. And if you want to go the whole hog and start a business, there are a whole host of government grants and schemes that could help.
Learning how to make everything from bread to soap is not only fun, it can also save you money. For example, a loaf of bread costs around £1 to buy, but only 64p to make yourself – a third less. Ketchup, salad dressing, shampoo, mouthwash, moisturiser, eyeliner, air fresheners, laundry detergent – all of these can be made at home for a fraction of the cost. Go Self Sufficient has plenty of ideas for products that you can make yourself.
Just because something breaks, it doesn’t mean you have to throw it away and buy a replacement. Head along to a Repair Café with your broken appliance, clothing, bicycle, crockery, toys or almost anything else and you’ll find the tools to fix it, along with plenty of expert volunteers to help. And Recycle This provides hundreds of creative ideas for recycling anything from wheelie bins to wallpaper samples.
Ready to go self-sufficient? Here are some tips to get you on your way:
Go Self Sufficient provides advice on everything from making your own soap to keeping a goat.
The Urban Guide to Becoming Selfsufficientish is focused on people living in cities who might not be able to go completely self-sufficient but want to make a difference.