Mutual self-sufficiency

Mutual self-sufficiency is when people help each other to be self-sufficient – it is mutual aid for mutual benefit.

Self-sufficiency is probably the most important strategy for sustainability. Overall it reduces ecological footprint and increases bio-capacity. Self-sufficiency is a two-fold strategy:

  1. The first thing is to consume less by simplifying and reducing your needs to a level that is sufficient for well-being – what we simply call ‘sufficiency’.
  2. The second part is to produce as much as you can yourself. This would include producing food and energy, reusing and recycling, walking and biking, rainwater collection and recycling, composting, and so on. Read more about the practice and benefits of self-sufficiency here »

Within a household, adults, with the help of their children, can do most of this work themselves but some projects may only be made possible with the help of family, friends and neighbours. And this help is reciprocated when others need it.

An obvious example is building. Whether it’s building a deck, a shed, a renovation, or even a whole house, more hands make light work of it. One of the major costs of house building is labour so in this world of skyrocketing house prices this could save you a lot of money.

There are many other ways that people can help each other, such as:

  • Doing child-care for each other
  • Care of the sick, disabled and elderly
  • Cooking circles
  • Cutting down trees
  • Splitting and stacking firewood
  • Clearing overgrown sections and/or starting a new vegetable garden
  • Foraging, hunting and fishing together
  • Sharing and bartering
  • Exercising together
  • Pooling or sharing tools, appliances and other resources

Sharing and bartering

Sharing your time is an important part of self-sufficiency but you can share, swap or barter other things as well. Everybody doesn’t need to own everything, for example you can share tools and equipment.

If you have surplus produce you can share it or barter it. For example, someone who fishes or hunts could barter with someone who has more than enough fruit and vegetables. Someone who likes brewing beer can barter with someone who likes baking bread. The opportunities are endless. In addition there are countless opportunities to share knowledge and skills or just to provide moral support and encouragement when it’s needed.

With the aid of a time-banking system people can do what they are able to do in return for getting what they are not able to do. A disabled person may not be able to do home renovations but they might be able to mend clothes or teach piano or mathematics, for example.

The benefits of mutual self-sufficiency

The benefits of self-sufficiency include becoming more resilient and independent; you reduce stress; you reduce your ecological footprint; you save money and you become fitter and healthier.

The benefit of mutual self-sufficiency is that you can support others to achieve the same goals and they can help you. Consequently trust, fellowship and overall social well-being is fostered in the community.

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