“Produce More Than You Consume”

Knitted Cabled Mitts
Last week I was reading a Mother Earth News article about self-sufficiency with advice from homesteaders, and one of the quotes that really struck me was, “to produce more than [you] consume.” It’s a simple concept, with obvious examples given in the article, but it’s one of those lessons I didn’t think much about until someone said it clearly and concisely. I’ve written before about the allure of a minimalist existence, and I think in a way this idea goes along with that.

So I thought about it, and surprisingly came up with some ways I’m already producing (but could do better) and a couple of ways I’d love to do even more.

Knitting. / I don’t know if I knit as much as I could, but I still knit a whole lot. I ended up making a good number of Christmas presents for people instead of buying them, and my goal is to make even more next year. One problem I have, though, is that it seems every time I knit something, I want to keep it for myself! Things always end up being so cute and cozy, and I feel so proud, that I almost can’t bear to part with them. It’s worth it, though.

Writing. / I’d say this is a pretty obvious one. I write, a lot, and in various ways and places. Coming up with blogging content is a good chunk of my production time lately, and when I’m not doing that, I’m working on other writing, like zines or poetry. One new writing goal is to do a poem a day and eventually publish a collection (most likely self-published). Plus I want to put out another issue of my zine sometime around my birthday next month. This one’s almost too easy for me to find examples.

Gardening + Homesteading. / This is more future than current, but it’s something I’ve been throwing myself into researching lately. I’ve been going through the few gardening books I have and making notes of what to plant, where to plant it, when to start indoors–you name it. I also ordered a copy of The Backyard Homestead from Amazon last week and am waiting for that to arrive, not to mention browsing Pinterest pretty consistently for my new gardening and homesteading board.

Cooking. / I’m not even going to try to be humble about how good I am at baking and cooking: I’m damn good. But I don’t do either enough. I should actually be working more on straight cooking than on baking, because I often end up with too many left over baked goods for just Dan and myself to eat, so there’s more waste than I like. Shame, shame. And lately we’ve been eating out a lot just about anywhere. So starting this week my plan is to cook something every day, big or small, for a meal.

These are some ideas I’m really passionate about, but do you have any other ways you or I could produce more than consume? I almost feel like these ones are too obvious for me, and I’d like to hear what anyone else does at home.

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7 thoughts on ““Produce More Than You Consume”

  1. Gardening is going to be a big focus for me this year. Two years ago I tried an outdoor garden, but my heart wasn’t in it and it wasn’t successful. Last year we did a container garden that was highly successful! As for this year, I think we’ll do a mix of some container, and some in ground in a new area with better soil. Hope it goes well!
    The only other really eco-friendly thing I do isn’t really producing. We use zero napkins, paper towels, and sponges in the house. We use reusable cloths for everything, and I ordered some Unsponges (check them out on Storenvy!) last month to replace disposable sponges. So much less waste!

    • I’ve been wanting to get some Unsponges so badly! And to use more cloth napkins, less paper towels. I’ve heard so many good comments about Unsponges, so maybe I’ll put them on my birthday list.

      Good luck on the garden! I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do mine this year. I would love to do it outside, and my boyfriend and I are looking at houses right now, so it might happen (I’m thinking raised beds), but at the very least I plan to start indoors since I’ve always had good luck with container plants.

  2. i love this post! i know what you mean about making things for other people and then wanting to keep them for yourself. i always convince me that i can’t fill up *all* those books. . .

    i also like that you know that you are good at food. i am also good at food and sometimes it’s hard to be around people who aren’t. like maybe that sounds harsh but if i can’t talk to you about eight ways to make mac and cheese then are we really gonna be good friends?! anyway, i want to hear more people tell me what they are good at— that doesn’t happen enough in the world.

    i think in the last year i have really shifted from consuming blogs + social media to “producing” more things that either make me really happy or will help other people. i’ve always been pretty aware of internet time sucks but i’ve had to make sure i am making things instead of just looking at things that other people make.

    lastly, those unsponges sound neat— i will have to look into those!

    • I agree; I think I’ve especially moved away from consuming blogs (though I still do social media quite a bit), but that might be more because I’m really particular about blogs. A lot of them seem like the same kinds of things to me lately. I worry my own is like that a lot too, getting lost in the crowd pretty easily, doing all the same things. I think that’s when you also have to make sure you’re producing /quality/ not just quantity.

      And I know exactly what you mean about talking with someone about food: I can talk to my dad for hours about what we cook, and my mom is only concerned with eating it. Hahah

  3. Love this post! I think about this a lot! I just bought my first unsponge recently and I love it! I’m waiting on some un paper towels to be listed that match my kitchen. I’m also trying to use more eco friendly packing when i ship orders. We are talking right now about starting our garden, but I’m awful at keeping anything alive. I can’t wait to hear more about your research and journey.

    • Part of the reason I haven’t ordered any unsponges yet is really just because I’m waiting for a pattern that match the kitchen ideas I have for our house after we move in. I’ll order them before we move (if I have the money or can convince Dan we need them), but nothing’s quite struck me yet.

      Good luck on the garden! I’m wondering what kinds of things would grow well down where you are, so you’ll need to let me know how it goes.

  4. Pingback: Gardening Extravaganza 2014: Pre-Planning and Research | Sonya Cheney

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