Have you ever considered what you truly need in this life? Since every homesteader is aiming for self-sufficiency, letting go of non-essentials is one of the first steps. See if you agree or disagree with items on this list:
6 Things Homesteaders Can Live Without
By Kathy Bernier
I was sitting in my dentist’s waiting room reading a magazine when a young woman entered from outside. After checking in with the receptionist, she took a chair near me.
I cringed inwardly. Trying not to allow my irritation to show on my face, I glanced up at her. She sat quietly, appearing well-dressed and polite. I redirected my gaze to the article I had been reading, willing myself not to get up and move to a seat on the other side of the room.
The woman smelled like she had fallen into a bottle of perfume while she was getting dressed that morning, and my olfactory nerves were overload. I didn’t want to be rude, but I could barely endure her proximity.
Just then, the hygienist opened the door and spoke my name. I jumped up from my chair and scuttled through the open door, glad to have dodged the bullet of having to choose between blatant discourtesy and breathing.
Once in her work space, I remarked to my hygienist, who had not noticed the woman’s powerful odor. She was used to such things, she told me.
I’m a homesteader, and we don’t have smells like that on the farm. I often notice during one of my infrequent forays into the city—even to the dentist’s office—the chasm between what city people seem to need in their lives and what I have in mine.
There are a few things that homesteaders definitely can—and probably should—do without.
You don’t need it. People who are used to it don’t notice it much, sometimes not even when it’s overwhelming. But if you and your household stop using it, you’ll be surprised at how over-scented people are. Try completely detoxing from it and see what happens.
Without a shroud of perfume, you’ll notice other smells. Fresh-cut grass or budding lilacs. Cheese. A leather jacket. An apple. A squeaky-clean baby. Cedar siding. Wood smoke. Bread baking. Maple leaves blanketing the ground.
If you must mask certain scents, why not make your own natural air fresheners out of essential oils?
2. Designer anything
If homesteading is defined by living a life of self-sufficiency, there is nothing about craving designer clothing or accessories that contributes to that definition. Even if you buy that big-name purse at a second-hand store, you are still letting yourself be sucked into a must-have-because-others-say-I-must mindset. Buying products because of the name on them is allowing consumerism to play a bigger part of your life than a homesteader needs.
Buy your clothing and accessories using other criteria:
- or country of origin
3. Single use food containers
Homesteaders set themselves apart from mainstream not only by lifestyle, but by the values they hold dear. Those values usually include conversation of resources and saving the planet. Single use containers fly in the face of those ideas. Snack size boxes of cookies and crackers, individually wrapped cheese sticks, little cups of yogurt, plastic containers with pre-made lunches, and even those handy little coffee pods…
Before you buy, ask yourself if you’d like to have them stacked up on your kitchen counter for a hundred years. If the answer is no, say no thanks to single use. Mother Nature doesn’t want them stacked up on her turf forever, either.
I admit that a few things do need to be individually wrapped. Ice cream sandwiches and popsicles, for example. And I know nobody’s perfect. But if you can, avoid them. The more bulk items you can buy, the better. You can repackage them in your own glass containers, or recyclable zip top bags.
If you do buy things in a plastic or glass container (ie: yogurt, pasta sauce), try to recycle it and find another purpose for it on your homestead.
4. Disposable cleaning products
Throwaway towels, sweeper pads, toilet cleaner pads, and other single-use or limited-use items don’t support a homesteader lifestyle. It can be handy to keep a few of those kinds of things around for occasional or emergency use, but you can routinely use washable cleaning rags, brooms, reusable dust mops and brushes.
5. Artificial air fresheners
They don’t remove foul odors, they overpower them. Instead, if you still have unpleasant odors after doing your best to keep things clean and tidy, use baking soda to absorb the smell. If you still must mask the odor, or if you simply enjoy certain scents, there are better alternatives. If you like the scent of evergreen, get some greenery at a local nursery and deck the halls. If you prefer orange or cinnamon, use the real thing. If you want your kitchen to smell like apple pie, bake an apple pie. If you can’t manage the time for any of that, there are still a few shortcuts without resorting to chemical-laden options. Just an apple slice sprinkled with cinnamon and baked in the oven for a short time will be emotive of apple dessert. Essential oils are a good choice as well, derived from the real thing and often homemade.
6. Many so-called beauty products
If you are a full-time homesteader like I am, you don’t need makeup or hair spray or nail polish. My chickens are not impressed with that stuff, and my goats don’t even care if I combed my hair before I arrive at the barn for morning milking.
This is not to say that I pay no attention to personal cleanliness. I do want to feel fresh and presentable, and do go out of my way to do so. If a little lipstick and manicured nails help you feel your best, go ahead. But keep it all in context, and ask yourself—do I need this, and does it enhance who I am as a homesteader?
If you do enjoy beauty products, why not go the natural route? Check out: 11 DIY Beauty Tips with Honey For A Completely Natural Makeover
This short list represents just a few of the things which highlight the differences between the needs of mainstream society and those of homesteaders. Many things can be painlessly pared from the lives of those of us living sustainably. If you try doing without a few of these, your efforts may well bring you closer to your goals of living a life close to the land and embracing nature. As an added bonus, they can save you money and could even be healthier, for you and for the planet as well.
I have lived on both sides of the homesteading fence, and I can relate to and enjoy all kinds of people. As a homesteader, though, I am glad for the opportunity to seek a simpler life. I embrace the ideals of minimizing waste, breathing in the air around me, and keeping it real—and with those as my priorities, there are things I can live without.
Still in need of some homesteading tips? Well here are 10 tips if you’re moving from city to country from Appalachia’s Homestead:
What do you think of these 6 things? Are these some things you can also with without? Let us know below in the comments!
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