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How to Make Your Home More Self-Sustainable

By Simon Dawson

“Mistakes maketh the person”, or so the saying goes, and you can take it as a fact from someone who once accidentally squatted onto an electric fence. A surge of power hit the parts of a man that have no business anywhere near an electric current – yes, even through jeans and underwear -resulting in a scream so high-pitched, only dogs could hear it. So sure, you can learn from mistakes – but isn’t it a lot more fun to learn from someone who’s already made all the mistakes, and knows the pitfalls and pratfalls to avoid?

Now of course, the chance of you making the same mistake with an electric fence is unlikely, but it would be of equal surprise if at some point during this last year, you hadn’t wondered if you could make things a little more self-sustainable. If only you knew where to start.

Well as luck and good fortune would have it, I’ve just written a book all about it! It’s almost like we planned it. It’s called The Self-Sufficiency Bible, but we’ll get onto that in a bit. For now, let’s turn our attention to tackling some of the challenges of making your home more self-sustainable. I have some tips, tricks and cheats on how to make it doable, whilst avoiding many of the more obvious mistakes.

I feel like we’re starting to relax into one another’s company. Some of the barriers of not knowing each other are starting to slip, so it feels appropriate to ask you some questions. I’m going to do so in a quick-fire round. Don’t hang around, just skid down the list and answer with the first thing that pops into your head. Okay?

  • Are you creative?
  • Are you a foodie?
  • Do you watch cooking shows on TV?
  • Is ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ a must-watch?
  • When shopping for beauty products – lads, don’t be shy, this is 2021 – is ‘natural’ important?
  • Are you worried about the planet?
  • Did you know that stinging nettles are a superfood and have you ever eaten them?
  • If you could have one day a week homemade, would that excite you?
  • Now say out loud, ‘Alexa, buy The Self Sufficiency Bibl…’ lol, just kidding.

Without a doubt, you’ll have answered yes to one (if not all) of the questions above. The reason for firing those questions at you is to stimulate the frontal cortex of your brain – the part responsible for creativity. Once that sparks alive, anything is possible.

What else can we deduce? Obviously that you’ll have preferences. Food, the environment, beauty, money saving activities along with arts and crafts are all mentioned in the above list, and your attitude will either be, ‘hell yeah!’, ‘yes,’ or ‘whatever’ on each subject. And that’s good! It means that you already know what aspect of self-sustainability gets you excited. All we need to do now is expand on that.

You know those writing competitions where they give you the first line of a story and you have to fill it in from there? Well, this is the self-sufficiency version of that.

By using those five aspects of self-sufficiency: Food, the environment, beauty, money-saving activities and arts and crafts, I’m going to attempt to ignite something inside you so powerful and get you so riled up, that you’ll fling your phone onto the sofa beside you and jump out of the seat to get started. Goodness, I feel like Derren Brown!

Some self-sustainable ideas:

  • Make your own butter, it’s just over-whipped double cream
  • Throw your bins in the bin, what life would be like with zero waste
  • Homemade face and body creams, pure and natural and tailored exactly to your skin type
  • Grow a loofah and never buy a sponge again
  • Knock up a unique, one-of-a-kind, patchwork quilt/cushion cover/dressing gown/etc

Did it work? Steady! Your phone has just bounced onto the floor and all that jumping has woken the dog.

Seriously, it looks fun right? And doable. Very doable.

Look, don’t just smile and flick on to the next article. Do me a favour and just let the ideas sink in for a few minutes. Meditate on them for a while. Now how do you feel?

Give self-sufficiency a go, really give it a go. Trust me, it will make you feel alive and you’ll be able to turn around and say, ‘You know what? I did that,’ and feel proud of what you’ve achieved.

Oh, and I did promise to give you tips on how to avoid the pitfalls and pratfalls. Don’t squat down on an electric fence. There you go. Happy self-sufficiency guys.


Aged just 32, Simon Dawson took a risk, sold his London flat, and moved with his wife, Great Dane and horse to a cottage on Exmoor. Scraping every penny together, they bought 20 acres of scruffy but beautiful land and built from scratch a smallholding where they still live, self-sufficient and happy. Simon is a radio presenter on The Voice of North Devon and the author of Pigs in Clover, among other books.

The Self-Sufficiency Bible is available from 9th February in multiple formats. Pre-order your copy here.