Consumer or Producer: What are You?
If you live in the modern world you would probably say consumer. We all buy things to stay alive and entertain ourselves. Food, clothing, shelter, fuel, electricity, gadgets and media are all big business. In the end, we are all consumers. But then there are those of us bent on producing more than we consume, which makes us producers as well as consumers.
Environmental, economic and political concerns are what drive most people to take a turn toward a more self-reliant, sustainable way of life. Some people call it modern homesteading. Homesteaders consider organic food production their number one priority. But there is far more to living the simple life than growing food and raising chickens. Homesteading is as much about reducing consumption as it is producing what you consume.
Think about consumption and the first things that come to mind are what we spend our money on. Our consumption extends far beyond what we actually hand over our hard earned cash for. The consumption of resources does not end when the food is gone or the garbage leaves our homes.
Those who are taking modern homesteading seriously understand this. They are reducing their consumption by reusing, recycling, upcycyling and re-purposing in some pretty creative ways. Each time they toss a cardboard toilet paper roll or banana peel into the compost bin they are reducing their consumption. Every time their gardens are mulched with naturally grown grass clippings from their own yards, consumption decreases. Of course, they are eliminating or reducing the need for soil amendments for the garden. They are also reducing their consumption of fossil fuels needed to manufacture and transport gardening supplies, and to transport yard and household waste to the landfill. Take it just a little bit further, and you realize they are also reducing consumption even more when the food they are growing with the compost they have made is harvested.
Homesteading is about production and responsible consumption. As little as possible is used and wasted. Obviously, this is not a new concept. Green people for years have been encouraging the public to buy products with as little packaging as possible, to use natural products rather than chemical based goods and to recycle and reuse everything possible. Long before people turned green, recycling and reusing was a part of survival.
Wherever you stand on global climate change is really a non-issue. Responsible living requires us to reduce waste and conserve our world’s limited resources. You may not think that our climates are changing, but you must agree that modern living has created a toxic environment that is affecting our health. You must also agree that we are surviving on limited resources. What we take for granted today may not be here tomorrow.
While we will always be consumers, it is our responsibility to reduce our consumption as much as possible and start producing more of what we use for ourselves. You can start by growing just a little bit of your own food. Even one vegetable plant can make a difference. Start composting your kitchen and yard scraps, stop using chemicals in your yards. Stop buying water bottles and tossing them in the trash; buy local, eat local in-season foods. Think about the resources needed to produce, package, and transport, and ultimately dispose of the items and services you buy and use. Reuse rather than throw away. Use less, make more. It’s good for you, your bank account and good for the world.