What is Sustainability?
Even if you are just starting out in your prepping journey you have no doubt heard this word used or the phrase, “sustainable lifestyle.” Well what exactly is that supposed to mean and can’t I just store up everything I need anyway? Let’s take a look at what it means and why it is so important in the prepping community.
Merriam-Webster defines Sustainable as: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed. So in other words when the world comes crashing down around us we want to make sure that we don’t use up our last five gallon bucket of beans and have no plan or way to feed our family. One of the reasons that we prep in the first place is that we do believe that things are going change in a big way and for the worse. As preppers we know that the problem is we don’t have any idea how long that is going to last, a few months, a few years, decades, we just don’t know. So if you don’t know how long things are going to be in turmoil how can you possibly store enough food and supplies and where do you get the money and space for it all? How do we make what we have sustainable?
Gardening is an essential part of sustainability. When supplies were short during the Great War people grew Liberty Gardens, during the Great Depression Relief Gardens and during WWII Victory Gardens. When things weren’t available in the stores your back yard was producing valuable nutrition and lets face it if you are growing your own food it is better than that chemically induced produce sold in the store. That means that if you want to make sure that your supply of canned vegetables will get you through you need to start a garden. Storing seeds for the apocalypse is fine but if you don’t know how to use them you might as well have bought rocks. The time to garden is now. Trying to figure out why your spinach didn’t grow when you needed it most is a bad idea. Garden and take the time to learn to do it right. Don’t forget that you are not limited to just growing gardens. Trees that produce fruits or nuts are fantastic because when they produce you usually get a large crop. Something to remember is that most preppers try to stick with heirloom or Non GMO seeds. Although some people have concerns about messing with what God has created, (myself included), the main reason to avoid genetically modified seeds is that the seeds from those plants do not reproduce true. In other words you will probably not get the same plant from those seeds. Although GMO seeds are easier to grow most of the time they are not sustainable. This brings up another area of sustainability, harvesting seeds. Learn how and when to harvest the seeds from what you grow so that you can grow them again next season. Don’t forget to include culinary as well as medicinal herbs in your garden.
Man can not live on salad alone, (at least not this one). So we need to find ways to raise our own protein if we want to have that sustainable lifestyle. I realize that not everyone has a twenty acre back yard to raise their own cattle in, so what do we do if we live in suburbia. Well the odds are that your HOA is not going to let you have goats in your back yard but you can have, pets and one mans pet is another mans dinner. Some HOA’s will let you have a certain amount of chickens, (usually hens). If so have at it. If not, never fear you can probably have dove, pheasant or quail as pets. I personally raise quail and their eggs are exactly like chicken eggs, just on a smaller scale. Another great thing about quail is that they are ready to eat and reproducing in just 6 weeks. Very sustainable. Another obvious pet option is rabbits. We all know that they are sustainable. One option that you may not have thought of but is becoming very popular is aquaponics. This is a system where you raise fish, typically trout, perch or tilapia depending on where you live, and plants. It is a system where the fish in your tank provide food for your plants which in turn help to clean the water for your fish. What HOA doesn’t allow you to have a fish tank. Granted most people use IBC totes for their fish tank. I do have a system of my own that has tilapia and it takes at least six to eight months before they start to reproduce but when they do they only have about five hundred babies at a time. There is a learning curve but I think we can safely say that it is sustainable.
Another thing that is mandatory for your sustainability is canning and preserving. When things start producing in your garden they typically do so all at once. If you don’t want to end up throwing away a lot of that fresh produce you worked so hard on because you just can’t eat it all, you are going to have to can it. Canning is a way to replace those stock piles that you have used up and helps you to enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the year. Dehydrating in another way to preserve your food and make it last for a very long time.
You can not take it for granted that everything will blow over before you run out of food. These skills are important to maintaining a sustainable lifestyle for you and your family. Sure it’s a lot of hard work but going hungry is harder.