I read. I read a lot. No really I am a book hoarder. One of my favorite bloggers posts e-books about homesteading every day and I must download at least 3 a day and just store them in my amazon library until I read them or can use them. I download books about raising goats and chickens and edible permaculture gardens. The thing is, I can not use most of the information I am given at this point in time. You see, I am one of the millions afflicted with apartment living.
I wont bore you with how we ended up moving from a nice little house to a tiny sad apartment but suffice it to say, this is where we are and we are making the most of it.
My husband was listening to a NPR TED Talk pod cast “The Future of Cities” about what the city of tomorrow looks like from a sustainability stand point. Eventually we run out of fossil fuels and will be limited to traveling in the small area we can easily bike or walk. Public transportation will be key to mass transit. They discuss retrofitting suburbia and re purposing old unused buildings like malls and big box stores from consumer establishments to community buildings like schools, churches, activity centers and artist lofts.
Ideally we would stop building suburbs and turn them into more sustainable urban environments better utilizing the space we have already developed to absorb the exponential population growth the planet is experiencing with as little environmental impact as necessary. Kind of like only having cities like large Asian cities, forest, and farms. Now I have issues with this within the current food paradigm and would hope for a shift to smaller more sustainable farming instead of big agriculture and how that paradigm shift would work but that is for another day.
So, if apartment living is the most sustainable way for most people to live, and the goal is to utilize as much space as possible as efficiently as possible, shouldn’t apartment homesteading be more prevalent and emphasized?
Of all the blogs I follow, none of them discuss apartment homesteading. They assume you can have animals, a large garden, and be able to produce as much fresh food as you will need for your family for the growing season. This is my ultimate goal in life, but it is not currently where we are. Although it would be fun to have communal gardens and chickens in all the wasted grass area in the complex.
I will write a series with more details on each of these but here are some ways that we do apartment homesteading:
1. Have a porch garden: I have a nice little garden on my porch in pots with herbs I use frequently, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, garlic, and potatoes. I also have a compost bin on the porch so that I will have some fresh compost when I need it and reducing the amount of garbage we create.
2. Shop locally and eat seasonally: We shop at farmers markets when they are open from local farms. The farmers are the ones selling us the produce and we can ask questions about how the animals are raised, what they are fed, and how they are slaughtered. We can ask how and where the vegetables are grown. Are they organic? Are they pesticide and herbicide free if they are not? Are the seeds genetically modified? You can harass the poor farmers with all sorts of good questions. Ideally we would ride our bikes to the farmers market but there is not one close enough to our house. This is a great place to find farmers markets, CSA’s and farms local to you.
3. Learn to cook and cook your own food: By cooking your own food you are eating local fresh food that will nourish your body reducing your medical bills, aches and pains. You have freedom from boredom of the every day fast food you were eating. Your body, your wallet, and the environment will thank you.
4. Make your own personal care products: Cut down on your shopping bill and make your own natural body and skin care. It is a fun hobby and you have absolute control over the results you want. How much more personalized can you get?
- You can ease dry itchy skin with these 12 simple dry itchy skin remedies, which includes the recipe for my Dry Itchy Skin Salve (that we use for my daughters Eczema)
- Easily whip up some whipped coconut oil for a simple nourishing moisturizer
- If you like something a more traditional body butter, try this DIY body butter recipe
- These homemade lotion bars are great to bring with you on the go without the mess.
- Make your own exfoliating body polish or coffee sugar scrub
- To help clean and revitalize your skin, try the oil cleansing method instead of harsh chemical cleansers
- Make your own DIY shampoo, anti-dandruff shampoo, or go Poo-FREE
5. Make your own medicine chest: Learn common cures for common ailments and have an herbal medicine chest on hand to treat your family for those little aches, pains, sprains, and viruses that they will inevitably get.
6. Can and preserve food: Be prepared for winter or a rainy day and save money by buying food seasonally and storing it for later use.
7. Make your own cleaning products: IT is really easy and only takes a few basic affordable ingredients.
8. Forage for food in public places: Pick the fruit off of the trees in public spaces, or used as decoration around the apartment complex. Ask neighbors if you can help them pick their fruit with some of the crop as payment. Take zucchini off of the hands of that poor unsuspecting soul who’s plant JUST WONT STOP producing.
12. Use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs
13. Properly utilize power strips to save energy
14. Cloth diaper
15. Recycle/ Reuse/ Re-purpose/ up-cycle
These are just some ideas. There are many more. By no means do you have to do them all because lets face it, its a lot of work; but by just taking one or two of these steps you too can be an apartment homesteader. Do not wait to say “One day when I have a house/farm/homestead I will learn to do these things.” Learn now! You will be an experienced homesteader and off to a great start once you do get that piece of land. If you decide to stay in apartments for sustainability reasons, because you are strapped for cash, or just because you enjoy apartment living, you are still saving some money and taking control of your personal space.
Keep an eye out for the rest of the series as it progresses through the weeks!
How do you homestead in your apartment or small living area? What are some great skills you think every self-sufficient person needs to know?
More blogs in this series:
Shared on Tiny Tip Tuesday, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Show Me What Ya Got, Teach Me Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Homemaking Link Up, DIY Linky, Monday Mania, Homesteaders Blog Carnival, The Gathering Spot, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Show Me What Ya Got, Traditional Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Say G’Day, Saturday Show and Tell, Link and Greet, Homesteading Blog Carnival