Although this is a blog about making things to live a more self-reliant life, I’m not going to pretend that I’m super economical, sustainable, and environmental all of the time. What I’ve found is that it’s a process. I started by reading and talking about the environment, toxins, and pollution. Then I started thinking about the food I was eating, the things I was buying, and finally, I started doing.
Doing is harder than talking. It has also been a serious learning curve. I do what I can, when I can, and I feel good about it. I buy organic and fair trade foods, I shop at local, independent stores, and only buy what I need. I try to make every day useful things to save money and to live a cleaner, simpler, and more satisfying life.
Learning to be more self-sufficient and aware of how my choices affect people, animals, and nature is rewarding and challenging. But it can be done! And it feels pretty good to know that if I can change, so can other people.
Our first major attempt at making things was a few years ago while living in Centretown. We lived in an apartment with an amazing top-floor deck. There was so much space and sunlight that my husband and I decided to start a container garden. We went to a workshop, bought bags of black earth and compost, lumber, and seeds. We also got this book as a gift, which is beyond helpful – The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City.
We made our own designs and measured, cut and nailed together lumber to make three connected boxes that could easily be taken apart and moved around (my husband owns tools, but borrowing from neighbours is a great option). They turned out beautifully! We started our seeds in the kitchen then transplanted them into the boxes and buckets. We had our very first urban garden. Since then, we try to find reclaimed items rather than buying new, but it was a start and it felt awesome. Being able to go outside and pick my own vegetables and herbs was such a great feeling – it was totally worth the effort.
Amanda Kavanagh was an educator and is an aspiring writer. During her career as a teacher she came to the realization that she needed an outlet for her strong opinions. She enrolled in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program. Along with her career change, Amanda has also made some life changes. Her do-it-yourself projects, gardening and research into living a cleaner and more satisfying life have become some of her favourite past-times.