July 12, 2023

A Self-Reliance Check List

My whole life it has seemed like the shit could hit the fan at any time due to the inherent instability of the consumer economy.

Looking back, one can see that the manure has hit the blades several times, often in spectacular fashion. 

Take the 2008 Greatest Recession, the year this blog was born. Have we forgot about that shit show already?

After any kind of crisis (manufactured or otherwise) the memory hole operation goes into effect right away.

Next, government reactions amounting to nothing more than kicking the can further down the road, 'save' us from doom yet again.

But you can't play that game forever. Eventually a critical mass of consumers figure it out, quit, and look for better ways to work and live.

Adopting simplicity now is a way for preparing for that eventual inevitability when things go seriously sideways and the system is unable to right itself. 

Indeed, our simple life prepared Linda and I for the insanity of the last 3 years rather nicely, and we avoided a lot of troubles because of it.

But what if things just keep collapsing around us with all government actions to stop it ending in failure (kind of like the past three years)?

In that event, a good dose of self-reliance is what is required.

Today I share a check list for self-reliance that was shared in the comment section of a blog I visit. 

The list says something about the value of living simply in order to be self-reliant and resilient. 

More importantly, it is a reminder of the  essentials required for life.

I don't endorse this list wholeheartedly, but share it in order to stimulate thinking about the unthinkable, and be prepared for the worst. 

Think bicycles instead of cars, and you will get the gist of it. 

Here it is.

A Self-Reliance Checklist

1. Occupancy of, or access to, 500+ square metres of fertile land per person in a temperate zone.

2. Access to fresh water via collection from a local [and permanent] pond/stream/well. Also, the ability to collect and store roof water. Equipment to filter water where necessary.

3. Systems for utilisation of ‘greywater’.

4. Good working knowledge of the life cycles of plants that produce food, and the ability to harvest and store seeds from one season to the next.

5. Fruit trees already planted and already producing fruit. Knowledge of pruning techniques and propagation.

6. Recycling systems for all organic materials and conversion into compost and soil conditioners.

7. Thermally efficient dwelling warmed by passive solar that can stand local temperature minima without additional heat.

8. Firewood within bicycle or handcart range for cooking on open fire as required.

9. A substantial store of canned and dried foods, plus vegetable oils.

10. Candles, oil lamps, LED lamps and batteries, mineral oils, solvents, paints etc.

11. At least one bicycle per person, plus spare tyres and spare brake pads and cables etc.

12. A good stock of durable clothing and footwear.

13. A substantial stock of toothpaste, washing powder, liquid detergents, bleach etc. And iodine (KI, KI2) for cuts and external infection and grazes etc. Iodine may also be potentially useful in event of limited nuclear war.

14. Good relations with local folks who have skills and equipment.

15. A healthy attitude towards government, i.e. zero confidence in any politicians or bureaucrat to ever be anything other than an obstacle to genuine progress. Zero expectation of assistance.

16. Not more than a few kilos above ideal weight (scientifically, mass). Physically fit.

17. Ability to survive without any electricity or petroleum products

18. A good range of hand tools and means to keep them sharp as required.

19. Knowledge of how to construct and use weapons when the time comes for such things.

20. A greenhouse and/or cold-frames to grow plants in cooler months.

So there it is. I might add a few things, and take at least one away.

I would want a root cellar for sure to store all that garden produce that would be grown. 

There is no use having a years worth of potatoes if you don't have somewhere to store a years worth of potatoes.

And chickens. I want chickens on my list.

Also, it would be nice to have some way to make electricity like micro-hydro, wind, solar, or some combo of all of these, and I would definitely want a wood stove for those cold nights and for cooking.

I would also like to see a well-stocked first aid kit, a medicinal herb garden, and a set of books on home remedies and basic medicine.

Finally, I am not big on weapons, so would probably take that item off the list. If you want something of mine, just ask nicely and I will see what I can do for you.

What would you add to the list to increase self-reliance? What might you remove?


  1. Anonymous7/13/2023

    Well that's a satisfying list to think through, even if it's not entirely applicable to my circumstances.

    Would add double emphasis on the firewood as when the sun finally decides to show up sometime in February, it is way too cold to keep a house livable.
    -a reasonable fireplace/stove that keeps heat
    -skis for getting around
    -root cellar for sure!
    -family of some sort, people to hug. I would think more people would be better. Good relations with neighbors and such is one thing, but I sure would feel more self-reliant if it wasn't just the two of us in the house. Not that I'm complaining, I do love the solitude of just being by ourselves...

    1. Anonymous7/14/2023

      Linda and I lived in a housing coop for ten years. An intentional community like that would be a great place to be any time, but especially in times of trouble. It was the strongest, most supportive community we have ever lived in.

      Solitude is great. So is companionship and support. That is something I have been trying to balance my whole life as I fall more on the solitude side of the equation.

      - Gregg

  2. Anonymous7/13/2023

    Before I was made redundant in 2008 my boss told me in an unrelated comment that “we’re from the Government and we’re here to help” is probably the scariest sentence known to humankind . Ironic now looking back over how much that redundancy effected my life also! Great list by the way ! I was please by how many things I already ticked off your list but there’s always room to learn more skills and plant more plants. Cheers Allison

    1. Anonymous7/14/2023

      It is nice to realize that we have already attained some of the essentials of self-reliance. It is good to be able to take care of business if the situation calls for it. New skills always welcome. And more plants, of course. Can one have too many?

      I have only been fired once. It was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time.

      - Gregg

  3. Great list Gregg. We have checked off many of these items, bar the weapons. We also don't have that much land, but I do have the knowledge on how to plant vertically and intensely in smaller areas. Plus we have plenty of nearby land available with neighbours on bigger sections, two of whom have already given me free rein to plant there if I wish.
    Probably the biggest thing is having community. Being a decent human being who cares for his neighbours and works with them. In our street, there are two neighbours that I wouldn't put out if they were on fire. They are AWFUL. Deliberately unkind, anti social and 'got me mine, bugger you' kind of folk. Truly narcissistic personalities. It's fascinating to watch, and quite stressful to live next to :(
    Everyone else is just lovely though and we all look out for each other. A lot of us grow food and share the bounty, and a good number are elderly and have some very useful 'forgotten' skills.
    But yes, get chickens. 10/10 recommend. They are lovely to watch, have real individual personalities and can be a real asset to the garden (carefully managed of course - otherwise they destroy and eat everything haha). The fresh eggs are a bonus :)

    1. Anonymous7/15/2023

      Community and social capital will be the hot commodities in the future. Nice neighbours are nice to have. Your situation sounds mostly lovely. Especially the chickens.

      - Gregg

  4. Anonymous7/15/2023

    Hi, I have been enjoying your blog for some time and the subject of this post has been occupying my thoughts in recent times as I read more and more about how our home here on the earth is under threat. We live simply, and what you write about on this blog resonates with me. As far as the list goes, I agree with all but the weapons one.

    I think that we should also remember just how very simply people have been living on this planet with many still doing so. I studied social history to graduate level and was always fascinated with how ordinary people lived their lives in the past. Social history shows us that people are above all else resilient, inventive, resouceful, and often in dire circumstances.

    I recently saw a documentary 'Honeyland', about a woman, Hatidze Muratova, one of Europe's last wild beekeeper who keeps bees using old techniques. She lived in very humble circumstances without electricity or modern conveniences and she cared for her elderly disabled mother. She managed to retain a level of humanity and decency that is hard to find nowadays. She helped new neighbours to her detriment, and showed a spirit of cooperation that used to be very common. We need to keep our humanity going forward, it served us well in the past and it will in the future too.

    1. Anonymous7/15/2023

      I have been thinking about that, too. We all lived simply at some point in history, and many still do and always have. Are we happier than if we remained living simply? Are our efforts to "improve" (complicate) life actually paying off? I would say no, so I choose to join those who live simply by choice or necessity.

      A large part of the simple life we have left behind is our humanity toward one another. Now the emphasis is on competition with others rather than cooperation. But cooperation is the only thing that works for everyone. That is sadly never highlighted as the powerful force that runs through nature, and human society.

      If you want to be happy and content, help someone else.

      Your comment contains many key words that are important to me - resilient, inventive, resourceful, humble, humanity, cooperation. These are the things that will get us through, I agree.

      Thank you for visiting our blog, and we are glad you have joined in on commenting. We learn a lot from our readers, and we will be looking up that documentary as it sounds wonderful.

      - Gregg

  5. This is an intriguing post and I have reread it several times. There are some items I nod in reading ("Yep, got that one"), others I ponder ("Does that fit us?"), some I am the fence about whether I agree or not. Thank you for this discussion. Thank you for this blog.

    And extra thanks for the Thoreau cartoon. I don't know about him hitting a store (ha!) for odds and ends, but even he was known to bring his laundry "home" to Concord for the women to do and having no problem joining others for a meal or a drink "in town." That, too, is part of community and cooperation.

    1. Anonymous7/18/2023

      I guess it would be hard to be a full time hermit, and even then you would have to "run out" every once in a while to secure things you couldn't provide for yourself. It is telling that Thoreau's project was finite in length, at which time he returned to living in society full time for the rest of his life. But he returned a better person I am sure.

      Wouldn't it be nice if we could have global community and cooperation? We should demand it more often because individualism and greed isn't working.

      - Gregg

    2. Global community and cooperation? Absolutely. I'd even just love to see more local community and cooperation.

  6. Anonymous9/23/2023

    Knowledge of ayurveda and clothing making and mending, as well as how to make soap are items I would add to that list, as domestic arts are oftentimes forgotten or overlooked when "prepping" takes center stage in one's mind


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