71 Self-Sufficient Living Tips to Reduce Your Impact on the Earth

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These 71 self-sufficient living tips make having a healthier, happier, and more sustainable life for you, your family, and the planet possible! You might not be able to do all of the items on this list, but imagine the impact we could have if every able person chose even two or three ways to be more sustainable. 

goat in a field with solar panels in the background

71 Self-Sufficient Living Tips to Reduce Your Impact on the Earth

A self-sufficient lifestyle might sound unattainable, but it really doesn’t have to be. There are so many small things you can do to reduce your dependence on other people, and you don’t have to live on 40 acres or grow a garden with all of your fruits and vegetables either. 

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that being prepared and knowing how to do things is really important. We don’t all have to live on a producing homestead to make an impact. Simply knowing how to do things is a great long term goal!

Thanks to growing consumerism and globalization we have forgotten self-sufficiency. We rely on a commercial food supply system and eat a lot of unhealthy pre-made store bought food. We throw out things at an alarming rate. And only sometimes do we think it might be better to repurpose what we already own, instead of buying new.

71 self sufficient living tips

How to Be More Self-Sufficient

It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to living a self-sufficient lifestyle. You may not have the time or money for some of the bigger changes, and even if you do, you might not know exactly what you can do. 

Luckily, there are many small things you are most certainly capable of that add up quickly! This list is filled with 71 sustainable ideas so anyone can make their life more environmentally friendly. Simply pick one or two items from this list each week and watch your impact and self-sufficiency grow over time!

Why Should I Care About Self-Sufficient Living Tips?

We have forgotten that people survived centuries ago when there were no markets and machines in existence. They lit their own fires, grew their own food, they were so self-sufficient that they never needed a soul to help them out.

Now if you’re thinking, but Michelle. I like depending on other people. I like my dishwasher, washing machine, SUV, and air conditioning. Honestly, I’m right there with you! But it also gives me great satisfaction to be able to do things on my own.

Why can’t we become more self-sufficient? It’s also a great way save money and the environment, and become happier and healthier in the process?

I’m not asking you to roam around with leaves around your waist! I’m just encouraging you to make small changes that you can be proud about accomplishing!

Trust me, being independent is a great feeling, and self-sufficiency is a way more joyful ride that you can take. You simply have to believe you can, and be open to learning and doing!

bowl of homegrown tomatoes

71 Self-Sufficient Living Tips

Are you in? If so, here’s a great list of 71 different self-sufficient living tips broken down into eight categories: 

  1. Seriously easy changes you can make right now 
  2. Gardening 
  3. Cooking from scratch
  4. Making instead of buying
  5. Creating an energy efficient home
  6. Green tips that will save you money
  7. Planning for bad weather
  8. Raising livestock for eggs, milk, meat, and fiber

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Not many people can do all of these, but just about everyone can do some of them. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know where to start – just pick a couple items from the list and imagine the impact we can have if we are all even a little more sustainable. 

grow your own herbs

Seriously Easy Self-Sufficient Living Tips You Can Do Right Now

Let’s start with a few easy things you can do to quickly reduce your carbon footprint. Good news – these items can also save you money, as can many of the 71 suggestions on this list of self-sufficient tips!

  1. Eat seasonally, locally grown produce as it is fresh and doesn’t travel thousands of miles to reach you! You also support local farmers in the process.
  2. Buy second hand.
  3. Ask for help, from a friend who is further along in their self sufficiency journey. 
  4. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  5. Barter, borrow and share while building connections within your community.
  6. Learn to conserve things. For instance, don’t wear and wash your clothes every single time you wear them – try to make them last longer by using natural odor absorbing sprays.  
  7. Purchase clothing made from organic and naturally antibacterial fibers
  8. Become a minimalist, and reduce the amount of stuff in your life. 
  9. Live smaller and learn to be content with less. This will make it easier for you to become more self-sufficient.
homegrown food and chickens (1)

Utilize the Power of Plants – Grow Some of Your Own Food

Gardening and foraging helps to save on food costs, allows you to try vegetables and wild foods not found in grocery stores, and allows you to grow without having to rely on anyone else.

  1. Grow your own food in anything from a pot or planter on a balcony or window to a yard.  You can garden in everything from a dorm room to acres of land.
  2. Grow your own herbs to keep your food tasting great all year long in your kitchen window!
  3.  Learn how to compost to make your own fertilizer, boost your animals’ diet and keep one of the most common garbage items out of landfills.
  4.  Create a vermicomposting system if you don’t have a lot of space or don’t want to maintain a huge compost heap.
  5. Start saving seeds so you can save money and create seeds that grow best in your soil, your zone, and your way of gardening.
  6. Plant several fruit trees and make your own natural juice, jellies, jams, chutneys, and dried fruit for fresh, nutritious fruit all year . 
  7. Make the best of your trees and learn how to tap trees and make your own syrups.
  8. Learn how to forage in your area
  9. Learn to split hostas and other perennials instead of buying them.
  10. Keep house plants to improve indoor air quality.
  11. Grow your own flowers.

Cook from Scratch

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Making homemade meals from scratch means reducing preservatives, reducing plastic waste from pre-made foods, and saving money since whole foods are more filling and nutritious.

  1. Start by making a meal plan to help you reduce decision fatigue, simplify time in the kitchen, and start eating seasonal foods.
  2. Keep a stocked pantry and never have to worry about snowstorms, things being out of stock, purchase limits, or illness.
  3. Choose freezer friendly meals you can easily double when cooking so you get twice the bang for your cooking session! Having healthy meals you can toss in the oven on busy nights, stressful days or if the meal maker is sick helps insure you can eat healthy foods prepared at home.
  4. Make your own sauces and spices using vegetables and herbs that you’ve grown or purchased from a local farmer’s market or CSA. 
  5. Make your own bone broth and stock for savory grains, soups, stews and immune boosters.
  6. Bake your own bread and spread some homemade butter, jam or jelly for an added treat.
  7. Keep a sourdough starter for waffles, pancakes, breads and all things warm from the oven.
  8. Learn to make your own apple cider vinegar or create flavor enhanced vinegars for gourmet cooking!
  9. Learn to grind grains for the freshest flour.
  10. Preserve and can food for year round healthy meals.
keep bees

Make Your Own and Do it Yourself

Making your own and doing it for yourself can help save you money and empower your journey to self sufficiency. 

Again, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, pick just ONE of these options and own it! Once you’re feeling better, pick another one and OWN IT TOO!

  1. Replace disposable paper products such as wipes, paper towels, napkins, tissues etc. with reusable cloths preferably made from your own old t-shirts.
  2. Make cleaning supplies using home-based ingredients such as lemon juice and baking soda. 
  3. Making your own laundry soap is easy to do!
  4. Make your own candles. (It’s not that hard, and you can make some beautiful jar candles to keep in your preparedness stock too!)
  5. Read sustainable living books to teach and entertain yourself.
  6. Make your own soaps so they’re made with the scents and items that will support your family. 
  7. Learn to make simple wood furniture and decorations like a bookshelf, a chest, or a birdhouse
  8. Make use of DIY techniques to help you develop more self sufficiency and enhance your ability to barter with others in your community. 
  9. Make your own cosmetics using natural ingredients. 
  10. Learn how to make herbal remedies at home for common ailments like seasonal flu or immunity.
  11. Knitting and / or crochet is a great way to make your own scarves and hats!
  12. Learn to sew and mend. It’s handy to be able to repair clothes instead of tossing them!
  13. Try herbal methods for skincare and medicine. 
  14. Learn to fix gadgets and machines on your own. Don’t depend on technicians- youtube is full of tutorials.
  15. Learn how to change the oil in your car
  16. Learn to cut your family’s hair. It’s a great way to become more self-sufficient and save money at the same time.
  17. Learn basic household repairs like plumbing and other minor repairs. 
passive-aggressive house

Create a More Energy Efficient Home

From reducing your worries about losing power due to storms throughout the year to making your home’s temperature comfortable no matter the season –  energy efficiency at home will make life better and save you money in the long run! 

  1. Ditch the dryer, and make use of line drying to dry and sanitize your clothes with sunshine. 
  2. Hand wash laundry instead of going for machine wash.
  3. Install rain barrels to collect water to use for watering your garden. 
  4. Install a greywater system that can water your landscaping
compost station

Green Tips that will Save You Money

A safety net is always a good thing and a healthy bank account is the best financial safety net. Here are some eco-friendly tips that can also help you save money! The best self sufficient living tips always include some ways to save money too!

  1. Conserve energy as much as possible. 
  2. Go for good ventilation by opening your windows instead of keeping the air conditioning on all day. 
  3. Ditch the gym, go for home-workouts. Use filled bottles or heavy jars as a makeshift for dumbbells if you don’t want to buy your own weights.
  4. Read for entertainment. E-books are environmentally friendly, and a lot of them are even free.
  5. Walk more or use a bicycle instead of taking your car for short distances. Consider an ebike if you live near good resources.
  6. Join a CSA (Community-supported agriculture)
  7. Buy meat in bulk from a local farmer and support your local community.
  8. Live in an energy efficient home.
  9. Create a cold cellar
dutch oven camping recipes

Make a Plan for Bad Weather

Preparing for weather events  throughout the year will help you save money and possibly the lives of your family.

  1. Learn to use a solar oven.
  2. Practice life without electricity. You can occasionally prefer lighting candles instead of lights. Cherry to the cake – it’s aesthetic and calming.
  3. Consider alternate energy sources (Solar power for instance)
  4. Learn to light a fire. While you are at it, try it the traditional way using rocks and woods. 
  5. Heat with wood to save money and get some exercise while collecting, chopping and stacking wood
molting turkeys

Raise Animals for Eggs, Dairy, Meat, and Fiber

Take it to the next level by also raising your own fertilizer, pest control, eggs, dairy and meat. Not only will you cut out issues with recalls due to ill prepared foods, you know the animals you raise will have been cared for in a manner you can be happy with.

  1. Raising chickens is easier than it appears. They’ll not only supply you with fresh eggs and meat but will convert kitchen scraps to fertilizer for your garden as well.
  2. Start keeping bees to help save bees and obtain a healthier sweet option for your family
  3. Keep guineas for natural pest control of fleas, ticks, weeds and other unwanted pests.
  4. Learn to butcher chickens and other animals on the farm to reduce your animal’s stress levels, save money on butchering costs, and improve their quality of life.
  5. Raise goats, alpaca, sheep or rabbits for fiber to felt and spin. 
  6. Learn to make your own butter, cheese, and yogurt

What do you think of these self sufficient living tips? Can you think of more ways to depend more on yourself and less on others?

If you have more ideas, feel free to share them with everyone in the comments! I’d love to hear.

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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1 Comment

  1. This is a fantastic resource. I like your list method. I do recycle, reuse, repurpose often, but I see room for improvement. I could make candles and soap for starters and stick to a meal plan since I cook our meals far more than we eat out.