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What Does it Mean to Be Self Sufficient?

Updated on January 5, 2010

According to Webster's online dictionary, one of the definitions for self-sufficient is "able to maintain oneself or itself without outside aid: capable for providing for one's own needs." Can you provide for your own needs? I guess it depends on the area you are talking about. Most people are self sufficient when it comes to their own care. They can feed and clothe themselves. Most people can drive where they need to go and buy the things they need.

But there is a growing movement for people to truly be more self-sufficient. For example, providing food for your family. Many more people are starting gardens. This might partly be to save money, but I think also to become more self reliant. I hate having to rely on outside sources for what we need. Taking the example of food, I don't want to have to rely on whatever food items are available at the grocery store in order to feed my family. I don't want to be dependent on Kraft or General Mills to feed my family. As much as possible I would like to grow my own food and cook from scratch in order to feed my kids.

There is more to it than food though. When the garage door stops working do you go to the phone book or to your tool box? If you were self sufficient enough to fix the garage door yourself you would save a lot of time, money and headache. Say a small part needs to be replaced. If you could replace it yourself you could have your garage door working again in an hour or two (even with a trip to the store). If you couldn't fix it you would have to find a repairman in the phone book, make some phone calls, set a time (usually hours or even days later) for them to come out, possibly take time off work to sit around and wait for the repairman, be there while they spend an hour fixing it, and pay them a lot of money to do all of that. Which sounds better to you?

Being self sufficient requires learning a lot. But learning new things keeps our minds young and healthy. When we can rely on ourselves to sew on a button, iron our own clothing, fix the garbage disposal, cook dinner from scratch, grow strawberries for our snacks and many more things it give you freedom. Freedom to do things the way you want them done. It gives you more control over your own life.

If you want to avoid pesticides on your vegetables, the only way to do that is to grow your own (even organic vegetables are sprayed). If you want to keep more of your money, the only way to do that is to stop paying other people for things that you could do. If you want freedom from being a slave to your job, becoming more self-sufficient will help you do that. These are examples of real life ways you can be self sufficient. What does it mean to you to be self sufficient? Are you making changes to be more self reliant? I would love to hear about it.


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Well stated, do it yourself and be on top of things instead of calling someone else to do your job. You have mentioned many good points here.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      I learned these things at the knee of my Grandmothers.....Many think these ideas are new......

      hang your laundry

      reroute your 'grey water' to the garden

      grow your veggies

      update the hand me down clothing

      reuse, use it up, wear it out.......

      raise your meat, be it cattle, pork or poultry ( goats are a big "new" ticket item today, so are rabbits and venison)

      Train up a child............and he will not depart from it......

      As a young woman, I could not leave the farm fast enough, until I did, then I spent over 20 years working my booty off to get back to it.

      Next week, I will be making soap and watermelon rind candy.

    • profile image

      Jodah 7 years ago

      Great hub Jennifer....very informative, please feel free to check out mine"In search of Self-Sufficiency" we have many beliefs in common.

    • profile image

      Miranda  8 years ago

      This is a great hub. I want to be able to be as self sufficient as possible one day.

      Angalasblogbox: I would have loved to have known your grandmother. She sounds like an amazing woman! I hope that one day my family will say something similar about me.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      When I lived on a farm, we were very self sufficient. We grew and preserved most of our own food. It was hard work, but it was very rewarding! Enjoyed the read!

    • jimcain207 profile image

      jimcain207 8 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      Great hub on self-sufficiency. I concur with everything you said. Being raised in the big city, we moved to a modern day "green acres" not knowing anything (as per my profile). There has been blood, sweat, & tears along the way with alot of hard work, but no regrets whatsoever. We just bailed off in it and did it. I love popping the can off a quart of vegetables knowing it did not come from the grocery store shelf, but your own garden.We love it.Very inspiring hub!

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      Very thought provoking. Most of us are so 'busy' we have to hire someone else to do simple things for us. Makes you wonder what exactly we're so busy doing!

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 8 years ago from Australia

      Great! Yes, I'm working towards it! I'm growing food organically without any chemical sprays too! I enjoyed reading your Hub! Best wishes!

    • profile image

      WildIris 8 years ago

      I agree with Jyoti Kothari,..."people are interdependent, no one is self-sufficient."

      To grow an exquisite garden one must amend the soil. If one does not own animals for manure or seeds for a cover crop one must go to others for these needs.

      Nice Hub~ We do need to remember to be self-reliant. I think it stimulates creativity.

    • lctodd1947 profile image

      lctodd1947 8 years ago from USA

      This is good information and advice... we all need to do more for ourself.

    • Angelasblogbox profile image

      Angelasblogbox 8 years ago

      This is a great hub..reminds me of my grandma who lived in the countryside away from the city in Africa, who had planted her own cabbages, onions, tomatoes, bananas, avocado, mangos, arrow roots, coffee, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and macadamia. She also had cows, goats and chicken in their respective pens. The only thing she needed from the store was the ocassional lotion, tea and a christmas dress.. talk about self reliance she lived on less than a dollar a day and died at the age of 110 years. She never drove a car, or went to school. She planted, plowed, walked for miles over hills to visit relatives and to sell her bananas at the small town's market. She had 7 children born. she also relied on roots and traditional herbs for medicine. She was a special woman in my life. Having shared part of her life I do agree with you that its possible to live healthy lives without depending on the stores for everything.

    • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

      Cedar Cove Farm 8 years ago from Southern Missouri

      Nice hub. Your comments make me wonder why some want to rely on the government to take care of them, not very self sufficient, eh?

    • hudsonj1994 profile image

      hudsonj1994 8 years ago from Alabama

      awesome hub! Loved it

    • Info Help profile image

      Info Help 8 years ago from Chicago

      Great hub! I would love to have my own garden, maybe that's something I can implement when the weather gets warmer. I am a fan :)

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 8 years ago from Texas

      You have written a very interesting and timely hub on the value of being self sufficient. Enjoyed the comments, too!

    • LeonJane profile image

      LeonJane 8 years ago from Australia

      Like Jyoti says, self sufficient has different meaning for different people. You will find people from 3rd world countries are more self sufficient than western countries.

      Although we can all try to achieve a degree of self sufficiency, like growing our own fruit and vegetables and trying to fix broken things that we own.

      I believe we will never be truly self sufficient unless we go back to the 1700's/early 1800's where they didn't rely on petrol/gasoline or electricity and had to make, mend and grow their own things.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 8 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi Jeniffer,

      Self sufficient is a vague word. It has different meaning for different people, organizations, countries etc.

      Normally we speak of self sufficient in monetary terms. However, people are interdependent, no one is self-sufficient.

      Thanks for a nice hub that provokes thought and guide to lead an independent life.

      Thumbs up!

      Jyoti Kothari

    • Cindy Riley profile image

      Cindy Riley 8 years ago from Marana

      Good Article!

      I truely believe we need to be more self-reliant. It absolutely is accentual that people realize how depended everyone has become, and need to be more depended on their own resources.Your so right when you say learning new things keeps your mind young and healthy, I am learning new things every day. I have my own place;and I have to find ways to fix what is broken, Like my cousin tells me [ he is a construction worker] well he tells me [ If you don't try to do the work you will never know if you Could ] [ Yes I call on him when I can't do the work]LOL

      I totally agree with [ breakfastpop ]:

      ." When I find that secret island where my family can live in peace, I will grow my own vegetables, and provide for all our needs." this is what I want to do too,

      Nice thanks for sharing with us.

      Cindy Riley

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

      Good article - good advise. I've written an article on starting the old victory gardens and one on how to save seeds. I believe in self sufficiency, but also believe that we need to come together to help each other to that end.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      It is just I would like to do and now decided to write like mad on Hub to achieve this and various other projects.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Terrific thought provoking and informative article. When I find that secret island where my family can live in peace, I will grow my own vegetables, and provide for all our needs. It sounds good to me!

    • profile image

      kims3003 8 years ago

      very well thought out and well written article A+++

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      I always strive to learn all I can, and to become more and more self-reliant. It absolutely is a great way to save money.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      Great hub and SO true - we are an 'instant' society it seems in so many ways and have forgotten what it means to truly do-it-yourself...and with SO many resources available, it's silly not to! Our legally blind son was recently trying to replace a toilet for instance and he couldn't see what he was doing first of all and second, couldn't figure out how to do it being 'coached' over the phone. I directed him to or some site where they had videos, diagrams, etc. and within about a half hour, he had the 'tools' he needed to do it and saved himself a lot of money by not calling a 'professional'. I know people who do not even know how to begin to grow something plant or food - and it is such a rewarding experience. Great hub and I totally agree. Audrey