I’m getting ready to make some new years’ resolutions for 2007, and one of them is to try and live more self-sustainably. I’m under no illusions that I can totally provide for myself and my family living on my suburban plot, but there are things I can do to reduce my carbon usage, and to concentrate on a few luxuries that I’d like to keep enjoying regardless of my personal economic situation. One of those luxuries for me is beer.
I’ve been homebrewing beer, mead and wine for the last three years or so. I enjoy drinking darker, stronger beers than the normal swill that passes for beer in the USA. and I don’t like paying through the nose for it. Brewing my own beer both allows me to make beers suited to my personal tastes, and it also saves me money. After the initial purchase of equipment, the actual cost of ingredients is much lower than the equivalent cost of commercially-produced beer. Finding a decent commercial mead is almost impossible as well, so if I want to drink the stuff, I almost have to make it myself. So, I’ve been acquiring the necessary equipment I need to stock a decent home brewery.
A lot of people outside the sustainability movement look at voluntary simplicity or sustainability as an exercise in self-denial. Their mindset seems to be that in order to support ourselves, we must cut back on many or all of the things that make life worth living. This is nonsense. A lot of the ‘stuff’ that we cling to as necessities of modern life are no such thing, and if we concentrate on a few things we derive a lot of enjoyment or satisfaction from, we can live a much more enjoyable life once we free ourselves from the mental shackles that are placed on us by our addiction to stuff.
Whether it’s making your own beer, or woodworking, knitting, gardening, or something else, find something that gives you pleasure, and figure out how to do it even if you find your access to money and/or energy restricted. That’s one of my resolutions for 2007.