If you want to be more sustainable, try being more independent.

As we all know, there are multiple actors required to create a prosperous, sustainable society. Institutions are a necessary part of that.

We’ve all heard the “100 corporations contribute to around 70% of carbon emissions” stat.

Unfettered markets will prioritize carbon emissions because short term quarterly profits are more appealing than long-term sustainability… something like that.

Still, we don’t want to order Door Dash every day and call ourselves an environmentalist.

On a human-to-human level, learning how to be less reliant on corporations and government for basic survival will make you happier… and reduce your footprint on this beautiful Earth.

Busy? Try the speed read.

The scoop: Individuals need basic survival skills to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

Ways to be more independent + sustainable:

  • Grow your own food

  • Make something from scratch (DIY)

  • Learn one new hard skill every “x” (42 examples with how-to videos below)

  • Rescue an animal

  • Make your property inclusive to wildlife

  • Stop buying random shit

  • Choose fresh air over screen time (at least once a day)

Bottom line: If you understand how to be independent, you can seamlessly be your best ‘sustainable’ self.

If you are dependent on institutions for basic survival, you are not a sustainable human. Sorry, not sorry.

Dig deeper → 5 min

In the fight for a more sustainable planet, we need to include lawmakers, activists and business suits.

With that said, there are things we can do on an individual level that may not change the world — it may not even prevent climate change… or keep the oceans clean. But it will help.

Choosing a lifestyle that complements nature rather than exploits it, is a choice that can be passed along for generations.

Include our living Earth in your everyday routine. Go sustainable by going independent. Here’s a few ways how.

Grow your own food

Being in a city is no excuse.

There are many ways to grow food these days, even if you live in a major city with a cold climate.

But anyone who wants to go sustainable by going independent needs to know this skill.

The best piece advice I can offer any gardener just starting out is to just do it. Don’t obsess over the process or the results.

Just grab some seeds, fertilize the soil as best you can, water it regularly and see how many successful crops you yield year one.

Trial and error is the best way to learn.

Live in a city?

Living in a city shouldn’t stop you from growing some banging veggies.

Indoor/urban farming techniques like hydroponics have matured in the last thirty years. You can grow a lot more than a marijuana plant.

Vertical farming is another hot indoor growing trend.

Use a platform like True Leaf Market (no affiliation) to buy an indoor growing kit and grow your own vegetables, herbs and spices.

Growing your own food is not only better for the environment… it’s pretty damn cheap too.

I’d recommend anybody interested in the sustainability movement to at least try growing their own food.

If that doomsday scenario ever does pop off, I don’t plan on waiting in the grocery store line for four days to feed my family.

As the industry era moves on into phase four, we are losing touch with our ancestral roots.

Most people came from families that were very much involved in agriculture. Even today most families of the world are made up of farmers.

Get in touch with your humanity and grow some damn food.

Make something from scratch (DIY)

Kill multiple tasks with one project.

DIY projects can be an efficient use of your time. They are not only productive (you get a cool product at the end), but they can be social, and help you stay active too.

You can bond with roommates, flex your muscles + break the corporate supply chain. Sounds pretty awesome to me.

If you are a work-from-homer these days, exchange your jammies or sweatpants for some work pants and get grinding!

If you are a front-liner, de-stress on off days with some good-ole-fashioned hammer-and-nailing.

These days, the non-gym-rats of the world may be having a hard time getting out and staying active.

A DIY project can also solve that.

DIY projects are also a perfect way to get your hands dirty and feel more connected to the earth. It can be a really grounding experience.

Better yet? You get something to use later on.

Some DIY project ideas:
  1. Build an (anti-bacterial) birdhouse with insulation to keep the birds warm during the cold winter months.

  2. Build a fire pit in your backyard.

  3. Instead of buying more Procter & Gamble products, try making your own soap at home with organic ingredients.

Learn one new hard skill every “x”

Hard skills are a lost art in the urban world. Let’s fix that.

Like a DIY project, hard skills are becoming increasingly uncommon in the age of urban crowding. But boy are oh so important to remember when shit hits the fan.

Remember, being sustainable = being independent.

Even if it is shuffling a deck of cards, try learning one hard skill every “x”. That means setting your own pace.

You can learn a new skill every year, every month, every week, perhaps even every day (though you may run out of ideas).

Here are some skills from ArtofManliness.com for your 2021 resolution:
  1. Change a flat tire

  2. Tie a necktie

  3. Build a fire

  4. Hang a picture

  5. Shine your shoes

  6. Treat a snake bite

  7. Wet shave

  8. Parallel park

  9. Paddle a canoe

  10. Barter/negotiate

  11. Fix a leaky faucet

  12. Sew a button

  13. Split firewood

  14. Find potable (drinkable) water

  15. Kick down a door – hint: aim just below the door knob

  16. Sharpen a knife

  17. Change a diaper

  18. Navigate with a map and compass

  19. Unclog a toilet

  20. Swim a front stroke

  21. Iron your clothes

  22. Build a shelter

  23. Identify poisonous & edible plants

  24. Open a bottle without an opener (I’ve always done the lighter tactic)

  25. Drive in snow

  26. Always know North

  27. Hitch/Back-up a trailer

  28. Make Pancakes from scratch

  29. Shoot a bow-and-arrow

  30. Drive stick shift

  31. Pick a lock

  32. Mix two classic cocktails

  33. Play one song on the guitar

  34. Change your car’s oil

  35. Ride a horse

  36. Get a car unstuck

  37. Shoot a gun

  38. Jump start a car

  39. Know how to dance

  40. Ride a motorcycle

  41. Hammer a nail correctly

  42. Make fire without matches

Here is a full YouTube playlist for every how-to listed above:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/embed?listType=playlist&list=PLsB94xsbfbnV4C8GZahznb5Hvvk2yxRmH[/embedyt]

Rescue an animal

Caring for an animal in need can teach you new skills.

I may be a little late to the party on this. You may already have one. I know there was a surge of new pandemic family members (I hate the term pet) this past Spring.

If you missed the boat, rescuing an animal is a great way to make an impact and connect with a non-human Earthling.

How does rescuing an animal make you independent?

Saving an animal requires a certain degree of care and skill-building (especially if you take a more holistic approach to animal care like I do).

You can carry some of those skills into your own life. Plus, learning survival skills with an animal companion can be much more rewarding.

Petfinder.com is a good resource for discovering animal rescues and shelters near you.

I am deeply passionate about animal protection laws and animal welfare in general.

It is pretty amazing to see someone who lacks compassion for animals—everyone has one “animals are a grocery store commodity designed for human consumption” friend—open their mind when they bond with an animal.

Rescuing an animal can inspire any decent heart.

Make your property inclusive to wildlife

Freshly mowed lawns without animals are boring.

Staying along the animal theme, make your property as inclusive to wildlife as possible.

Please don’t use pesticides

From the time I was a child, I never understood why people designed their yards to keep wildlife as far away as possible.

I guess I can try to understand why. Deer, for example, can be pesty in a home garden you worked so hard for.

Even so, they are just trying to feed themselves. They don’t really mean any harm.

Please don’t use pesticides. They aren’t good for you, and they aren’t good for your harmless visitors.

Why not set up a designated spot in your garden for furry creatures and feed a hungry family? Good karma.

Mowing your lawn

Regular lawn-mowing is important for any neighborhood reputation. Unfortunately, lawn-mowing isn’t great for insects like bees.

And we learned how insect populations are on the decline.

Without destroying your neighborhood street cred, let your backyard grow out a little (I promise no one cares that much).

Maybe strategically choose a piece of your property that no one sees much and let that baby grow. Watch how much more wildlife flocks to that area.

One more idea

Get a bird feeder or a bird bath (make it antibacterial or clean it seasonally).

Leave out some peanut butter, veggies, nuts and seeds out for the squirrels, rabbits, and birds.

If you are unsure about food toxicity for certain species, just do a basic internet search.

Stop buying random shit

Amazon has turned online shopping into a dopamine hit.

I am not here to shame you about your shopping addiction, I want you to be enlightened.

The American economy runs on the back of consumerism, so we are all brainwashed in the West to be obsessed with buying things.

But I’m not a hater. I’m guilty of it too. I can’t stand that part of the sustainability movement that makes modern luxuries look sinful.

In fact, that inspired me to create Sustainable Review.

Instead of hating yourself for buying a new pair of headphones or Gucci slippers, just ask yourself two things before making a purchase:

  1. Is there a realistic way to make this product myself?
  2. Is this a greedy or a needy purchase?

^You can add that to your phone notes.

Choose fresh air over screen time, at least once a day

I promise you, you aren’t that busy.

This is a sneaky hard one. In the age of COVID, screen time is obviously up big.

Many families are learning/working from home, turning basic social situations that would normally be off-camera, face-to-face, into on-screen occasions.

This uptick will hopefully make us realize how psychologically damaging too much screen time can be.

And the post-COVID world will voluntarily dial back the TVs, computers and phones. So I hope.

A few minutes outside, everyday.

To reconnect yourself with Nature, it is necessary to spend at least a few minutes outside everyday.

If you work during daylight in the shorter Winter months, still make time to go outside at night.

Put your bare feet in the grass. Run your hands through some snow. Inhale the smell of fresh pine.

Observe local wildlife. Absorb sunshine. Rub a tree trunk. Splash your face with some clean freshwater in a river or a brook.

These are basic everyday tasks that improve mental health. It also helps to ensure us modern bipedals don’t lose our careful relationship with Mother Nature.

If every human spent considerable time in the wilderness every month, the sustainability conversation would be much different.

Self-reliance in the post-covid-world will be so important.

Switch up your routine

It is too easy to grab your laptop on your train ride to your industrial finance job in the big city while you slowly lose touch with the natural world.

Then ten years later, it is even easier to discount some annoying hippy environmental activist ironically yelling at you for empathy.

Try putting the laptop down and reading a book. Window watch. Wake up 20 minutes earlier and go for a quick bike ride or a walk.

I promise you no one is as busy as they say. If that were true, Netflix and Xbox would be out of business.

Embedding yourself in Nature serves as a daily reminder why we’re here and what we are trying to protect.

If one day some corporation or gov official came knocking to take your little Nature escape away, you would know exactly what to defend.

Being sustainable = being independent

More government is not sustainable. Louder for the people in the back who don’t know history.

With the rise of trendy socialism, being self-sufficient has been carefully branded as a Republican mirage for the lost American dream.

At least as a 24 year-old in Greater NYC area, that’s what it feels like.

In reality, self-sufficiency is the underpinning of freedom.

The right to defend yourself with firearms, own private property, grow your own food, educate your children through homeschooling… these are the first rights threatened whenever a dictatorship emerges.

To be more sustainable, you have to be more independent.

Unless you work on the institutional level, humans need to live in harmony with Nature to spread more sustainable practices.

That starts with teaching our children (and ourselves) how to go back to the basics.

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