Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the times that we’re in. I’ve been thinking about ecology and about frugality, and about how challenging economic and ecological times mean that we need to think hard about the skills that we develop. I’ve been considering the skills that are most useful in these times. Here’s what I’ve come up with: a list of the top five skills for frugal times. What would you add or subtract from this list?
1. Growing your own food and medicine
This is something that I write about a lot. I love plants, I love being outdoors, and of course, I love eating. Growing your own food is a vital skill, whether it’s indoors, in a small balcony space, in a community garden plot, or on a farm. Growing plants that are healthy and have mildly medicinal properties is a good way to stay healthy, too. Knowing how to grow food from a seed, how to find wild foods in your community, and how to prepare and store this food so that it remains nutritious throughout the year – these are all basic life skills, in my opinion.
2. Building and repairing items
Some people love tinkering. Some people do not. But in these times, we all need to develop our inner handy person. It’s not really that hard to wield a hammer or a sewing needle and to do a little bit of tinkering, and the results don’t need to look beautiful. What if we remembered how to make and mend clothes, repair bikes, fix broken household objects, and build garden beds? How would this improve our lives and our communities?
3. Working with your community
Speaking of community, while being in community isn’t a traditional household management skill, I think that it’s something that we need to cultivate a whole lot more. You may not know how to fix your bike, but someone else does. You may not have an abundance of zucchini, but I’ll bet someone else has way too much. You don’t need to use money for all of the services and things that you need – not if you have good neighbors. Getting to know and share with your neighbors is a vital skill.
4. Managing your household’s energy, water and other resources
As droughts and heavy rains sweep across our towns, we need to know how to cope with these changes. Managing your household’s energy might mean installing your own energy systems, if you are able to do so. It could also mean managing your energy in other ways: by opening the windows to create cross drafts, or living in the basement in the summer months when it’s hot. It could mean saving water for drought times by using a rain barrel. Becoming a conscious energy manager of your own space will give you the power!
5.Questioning needs and finding creative solutions
In my mind, this is the quintessential household skill. You need a new quilt? A new pair of shoes? A new fruit bowl? Think about alternatives to buying something new. Whether you repair something old, get it free from someone else, or find it secondhand, you’ll be saving money and resources by rethinking and questioning what you really need.
What are your top 5 skills for these times?