Whether its urban or rural homesteading, food and energy production, creating a fulfilling career, or engaging in ethical and ecological home practices, there are many steps you can take to make a sustainable future for yourself and your family.
TenMoreSteps has ten steps to prepare for your future.
1. Create Sustainable Habits
Embracing sustainable living practices is the first step to preparing for your future. So many people still live well outside their means without considering the consequences, leading to endless debt cycles and an inevitably lower quality of life. Beyond our fiduciary habits, dietary and and emotional challenges play a large role in our present and future. Creating sustainable eating habits can be very difficult, but like any goal there are a steps you can take to ensure you reach it. For instance, pre-portioning your daily meals to help you stick to your diet plan. Harder still, is the breaking of poor emotional habits which often go overlooked. Emotional wellbeing is fundamental to a positive future. Taking the time today to sort out our emotional selves will pay dividends in our future. Creating emotional well-being is not as simple as treating yourself for a day (though that’s a good start). Emotional wellbeing comes when we are honest with ourselves about our desires and dreams and how the present plays into those future moments.
To prepare for the future why not take-up meditation? This simple, self-awareness practice will not only help you understand yourself, it will cultivate mindfulness which often leads to better choices in our personal health and well-being. A simple step to help you prepare for your future positively.
2. Limit Resource Waste
Preparing for the future today is about ensuring a healthy tomorrow, and this means carefully considered resource management. As consumers we often look to corporations and governments to manage our future global resource needs, but the greatest impact on the future of the planet’s resources is in our own homes. How we utilize our personal and public resources on a day-to-day basis is the beginning of the chain of supply & demand, which shapes the industries that supply us with those resources. People have been demanding cleaner energy and “greener” products for decades, but we are only just beginning to change the way we live and consume. Our planet is facing a developing water crisis, climate changes, and food shortages at this very moment. We need to look at the food, water, and fuel resources we waste at the commercial level and at the personal level.
Many households also waste enormous amounts of electricity via over-usage of utilities or by keeping occasionally used items plug-in which continues to drain power despite their inactivity. There are many products on the market today which will help you prevent electricity waste. Remember – though power seemingly comes from your walls, its production is likely anything but environmentally healthy. If each household prevents energy waste then the demand and production levels will decrease, and so will the environmental impact associated with it.
Preparing for our future is about ensuring their is a future to prepare for. Limit your resource waste and you will save both your pocket book and the planet.
3. Avoid Packaging or Give it a New Life
Needless packaging is everywhere. Even for those already in the habit of avoiding unnecessary product wrapping (like plastic bags for produce), avoiding packaging altogether is very, very difficult these days. Plastic seems to encase anything and everything we might want to bring home from the grocery store, and much of the time it’s for advertising purposes.
Preparing for our future can not only be about preventing waste – it can also be about turning waste itself into a worthwhile product. Packaging hacks and recycling/repurposing projects abound online, and can often be so astoundingly functional they overshadow the initial product’s usefulness. Whether it is simple bathroom hacks or building an entire house from recycled material (like Mike Reynolds, ‘the Garbage Warrior’) – finding new life for old packaging can give you greater bang-for-your-buck and reduce the millions of tons heading to our landfills and garbage dumps each year.
There are several simple tips for avoiding packaging whenever possible. At the grocery store, for instance, avoid shopping in the central isle which are often the domain of pre-packaged food (unhealthy and wasteful). You can also bring your own fabric shopping and produce bags – making one with the kids might be a great way to pass on the habit of remembering to bring your own bags when you shop.
Avoid packaging – or re-use it and give it a new life. Either way, limiting waste is a positive step to a future for all of us.
4. Gain Some Energy Independence
As energy demands continue to soar, so do the costs associated with them. However, consumers now have a chance to not only mitigate these costs by providing their own energy, they can in some cases can make a small profit selling this energy back to their local grids and providers.
Becoming our own energy providers is something few of us have really considered. Until recently, solar and wind energy units have been prohibitively expensive and thus not often utilized on a household level. Today, solar panels and windmill generators are becoming increasingly more affordable, and many consumer publications are beginning to actively tout the benefits of owning such gadgets and devices. Many newer devices allow for excess power to be sent into your local grid – affording some providers an opportunity to buy your excess power without the need for their own infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.
No longer the domain of off-grid housing, residential solar panels are small enough that they can be used in apartments or small dwellings, and powerful enough to run several household gadgets. Or you could go one step more (or ten steps more) with energy-creating clothing cable of charging your iPod while you walk or jog – or enjoy this solar power bikini.
5. Turn Output into Input
Perhaps it is our own love for aquaponics that has made this one of the steps on our list, or maybe it was how we set out to create TenMoreSteps, either way – turning output into input is an incredibly powerful strategy for strategy we use ourselves in securing our futures.
As a simple practice, make a list of all the things you typically do each day, no matter how mundane. Next, review each item on your list and ask yourself – could I utilize the action and its output for greater personal, financial, or household security? For instance, in your spare time do you craft items, study or read? If so, could you see yourself selling your wares or know-how as a freelancer? If you make jewelry, bake pies, fix cars, or landscape beautifully in your spare time, why not make use of that skill and see if you can turn it in to a casual income stream? We aren’t suggesting you take an escape and turn it in to your job – doing what you love isn’t necessarily a happy ending for everyone. But if your skill is marketable and you have the time to get it done, why not make that time worth even more to your household?
Much like recycling (covered above), we can utilize many different forms of output for greater means. Household composting is another example. Utilizing organic waste to nourish your garden or flower beds spare you from buying expensive enhanced soil while still providing your plants with healthy levels of organic material to grow from. Aquaponics is another example of how output waste can be turning into healthy input, in this case the growing of fruits and vegetables.
To prepare for your future, re-examine what you once thought was waste and see if it to can be repurposed as input for another endeavour.
6. Water Security
While not as easily gained as energy security these days, water security is also a very necessary step in preparing for our futures. Despite the seemingly abundant supply of water on earth, very little of it is fresh, drinkable water needed for sustaining a healthy life. So little is the supply, and so great is the need, that the United Nations has pointed to global water insecurity as a major challenge in our near future. It only makes sense then to begin developing personal water security strategies – whether it be through rain collection, grey water recycling, or simply limiting our use to prevent a catastrophic shortage.
Creating water security is not just about what we do at home, it’s also about what we buy when we’re out at the store. In just a few short decades, water has gone from a cheap, abundantly available resource, to an upmarket consumer choice, and in making this leap companies have been inspired to acquire and control vast reservoirs of fresh water. Nestle recently came under scrutiny when their chairmen announced that access to fresh water should not be a human right but rather the domain of corporate interest. Worse yet, crimes like “Water Theft” are now a reality in some parts of the world – like California. This extremely worrying point-of-view is just a glimpse into the future of the planets usable water supply and should be a loud and clear warning to us all to prepare for a future where water may not be nearly in the abundant supply it is now.
Nowadays, water collection systems both big and small can be purchased by home consumers, as well as filters and other recycling systems designed to ensure you have fresh, drinkable water for yourself and your family. Please check your local bylaws before installing such systems, as sadly in some areas of the world the collection of water by anyone other than authorized industries is now illegal.
7. Swap Your Job for a Career
If you intend to prepare for the future than surely it should be a future you look forward to. The difference between a job and a career may seem subtle at first but once the distinction is made it is hard to return to the grind of a day-to-day ‘job’. Careers are sustainable primarily because they are rooted in passion. Without desire, even the best career is just another job, a daily task to grind out and get done so you can get back to your real life. Conversely, careers become pleasurable, engrossing endevours which often emotionally exceed their financial returns. So how do you find one?
The difficulty in starting a career is actually deciding on what it should be, more than how to convert it into a finically secure position. Some career changes might mean starting your own business, while others mean going back to school and changing your field entirely. Some things you do on a day-to-day basis could be converted into a revenue stream that could mean sustainable self-employment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to make a career out of those things. It can be even more challenging for the creatively minded to narrow down a career focus, because art is subjective, and it can be difficult to create work for yourself as an artist. If you’re having difficulty narrowing down your choice of paths, try adopting the habits and practices of each career profile for a week or two. Once the practicality of the endeavour is exposed you’ll have a better idea if its a good fit – can you sell enough artwork in a week to buy groceries? Could you teach enough karate classes to make your rent? Is there potential for your home renovation skills to bring in enough money that you could leave your desk job? If so then be prepared to work! Starting a career is very difficult. Stay on task. You’ll achieve your goals.
It’s worth it to swap a job for a career. Taking steps now will ensure a pleasurable future you’ll be inspired to pursue.
8. Consider Rural or Urban Homesteading
Previously, we outlined steps to prepare for a future of energy and water security. Rural and Urban Homesteading are about creating food security through cultivation and/or husbandry. Beyond the obvious benefits of having your own food supply, more and more homesteaders are turning a profit on their farms as the demand for artesian and affordable, local, organic whole foods expands. Be warned, homesteading big or small, may seem romantic but it is often difficult and requires time, patience, and some skill to do properly. Check your local by-laws for the particulars in your area, and if you decide to try your hand at home grown food, explore your options carefully. There are many ways to grow food in big or small crops, and so many variables to consider. What will you grow or raise? Will you decide to provide food security to yourself and others, or specialize in a specific crop for potential sale at farmers markets or co-ops? Luckily, there are many online homesteading resources that will help you narrow your focus, and prepare for your future.
9. Engage with Your Community or Local Trusts
Taking steps to prepare for your future can include getting involved in your local community. Joining municipal and local farming, environmental, educational, or health-focused groups can not only allow you to be of service to your community, but it can mean having opportunities to ensure the development of sustainable community practices on a much larger scale, providing an example to neighbouring regions to adopt similar strategies. Be the change, right? Well there’s no better place to begin than in your own backyard.
Co-ops are also great sources of sustainability. Helping others achieve their independence while receiving vital services in return helps to strengthen the roots of your community.
Engaging your community gives you the opportunity to add your voice to the formation of policies and practices that shape the future for everyone.
10. Find Like-minded Individuals and Useful Resources
Finding like minded individuals and sharing your thoughts, questions, and experiences with them will help you step into the future with confidence and support. Connecting with individuals who are on a similar path means you have access to a greater range of experience in the field of your choice, and learning from the mistakes of others will help you avoid unnecessary setbacks and pitfalls. Gathering a trove of resources and information for present and future use will make overcoming the unavoidable challenges of growth a bit easier, and give you a sense of comfort in knowing the answers to your toughest questions are already at your finger tips.
Sharing your own experiencing and helping others in return is another step, one of ten steps to an enjoyable future.