Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Urban Homesteading

Music: Zaz by Zaz (thanks, Matt!)

With all the things we do around here, I was thinking that we are kind of what you might call urban homesteaders. To me, homesteading means doing things that make you more aware of yourself and your surroundings, like being vegan makes you more aware of your body. On the practical side, it's making and/or growing your own food and/or other products from scratch instead of buying them and also being more aware of the environment (i.e., living lightly on the earth).

Over the years, with my usual propensity to overthink things--I usually ask myself, do I have to buy this? or Can I make it myself?-- and to research subjects I'm interested in to death, I gradually arrived at veganism, doing all of my own cooking, making my own personal care products, recycling, reducing, and reusing as much as possible, and extremely minimizing my possessions and home living space. So much of what I do now is just second nature but it makes me feel more grounded in this fast-paced world to move at a much slower speed. I realized today that it's really urban homesteading; creating a homemade life while living in the big city. While the idea of country homesteading is appealing, owning a house is not (at least to me) because of all the work involved, not to mention the expense of maintaining said house and property ($10,000 for a new poured concrete driveway? Seriously? I can think of better things to spend my money on!).

But living in a 700 square foot rowhouse, in the middle of a large city of about 300,000 people, I'm creating a more leisurely life for myself. I may not have a garden right now but that's by choice because we're both working full-time and J. is also pursuing an MBA. There are community garden plots in our co-op, so that's certainly an option.

About every other day, we bake bread from scratch. We also make our own:
peanut butter
breakfast cereal (muesli, granola, oatmeal)

In addition, I also make:

deodorant (a blend of arrowroot or cornstarch, baking soda, & raw coconut oil)
deodorant powder (a mix of arrowroot powder or cornstarch & baking soda with a few drops of lavender essential oil)
shampoo (baking soda & water)
body lotion (I also use raw coconut oil straight from the jar as well as this simple recipe)
conditioner (rose water & olive oil)
face powder
face toner (a blend of rose water, orange flower water, & witch hazel OR rosewater with infused mint leaves)
hair gel (a mix of flaxseed boiled in water, then cooled and mixed with rose water and vegetable glycerine)

We clean house with:
White vinegar
Baking soda
Essential oils

Many are probably thinking that these things must be a pain to make when time is so limited but you know what? I actually find it meditative as it forces me to slow down and these don't take long to make. But the more I read about the scary toxins that are in so many common cleaning products, skin care products, and cosmetics, I don't mind doing this at all.

We use
handkerchiefs instead of paper tissue, washable rags instead of paper towels, cloth napkins instead of paper, cloths bags instead of paper or plastic, and reusable produce bags instead of plastic bags.

We buy in bulk: grains, nuts, flours, agave nectar, oil, spices, herbs, tea, dried fruit, popcorn, and beans and store them in clear jars.

In future, we have definite plans to live in an even tinier space (either a studio/one bedroom apartment or perhaps build a tiny 500-600 square foot house), use an indoor food composter (so we won't have to throw away food waste), and get by with as little as possible--near the shores of Lake Michigan; my idea of paradise.

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