Sunday, June 4, 2017

Become a Producer, Not a Consumer

This picture has been making the rounds on Facebook recently.

I shared it, because we do all of those things ... well, except bake bread, but that's because we don't eat bread (we're gluten-free these days).  We also don't have a goat or a cow, because we don't have a large enough piece of land, but we do have chickens and rabbits (and we used to have bees).  We don't generate electricity, but we save a lot of energy.  Deus Ex Machina hunts.  I do a lot of cooking.  We grow a lot of herbs, fruits, berries and vegetables.  Recently, I posted pictures of the skirt I made.  It took about two hours from start to finish. 

I was saddened by some comments I saw made by people who were offended by the list.  One person commented about living in an urban setting, where this person claimed that doing many of those things wasn't possible.  This person seemed to imply that lists, like this one, serve only to divide us against each other - the "producers" versus the "consumers."

But that's really not the point.  The point is to encourage us all to do what we can with what we have where we are. 

As I said, I'm not going to be milking my cow anytime soon.  I don't have a cow.  As long as I live here, in the suburbs, I will never have a cow.  But, I can purchase raw milk from a local farmer, and I can make my own cheese, if I wanted to. 

Or I can make my own skirt rather than purchasing one.  If I want to be really creative, I can make a skirt from a couple of old t-shirts.  I've done that, too.  One doesn't need a lot of land or a large house to sew clothes.

I've also salvaged stained shirts by dying them rather than tossing them in the trash.  That, too, is being a "producer" rather than a "consumer."

I'm not much of a knitter.  I still haven't progressed beyond making squares, and really, because I knit so slow, I don't have the patience to do much more than just a smallish square.  I used to knit squares with the intention of some day sewing them all together into a blanket, but then, a few times, I stopped paying attention to how long my square was, until it wasn't square anymore.  It was too short for a scarf, but too long for a blanket square.  And that's when I found a new use for them.  I use them as dish cloths.  It takes me a few hours to make one, if I have nothing else to do.  If I'm doing other stuff, it can take a few weeks.  But in the end, I have this knitted cloth I can use to wash dishes. 

That's also being a producer rather than a consumer.  I make my own dish cloths. 

The point is to do as much as we can for ourselves rather than relying on others for so much.  Each of those things that we do for ourselves means one less thing that we have to pay someone else to do for us.  The more we produce for ourselves, the less we consume. 

We don't have to do all of those things on that list.  In fact, maybe we do a bunch of different sorts of things (like make new furniture out of reclaimed pallets ... or knit rectangles to make dish cloths ... and make guitar picks out of old gift cards) that aren't on that list, but that are just as much about being producers as any of those examples. 

There is no perfect life, except the one in which we are all doing what we can with what we have where we are.


  1. well said. We also do many of these things, and prefer to improvise solutions to problems or fulfill needs out of what we have on hand, because it's fun, it's cheaper/free, and we have the satisfaction of learning a new skill and saying "I made that!"

  2. I like the list; it encourages a mindset to think how needs can be satisfied by reusing/recycling/making first. The other part of the circle is , when consuming is needed, to make that part of someone's production, benefiting one's neighbors when possible. I did knit my kids' sweaters, make compost, grow veg and fruit, but I don't have meat animals and so buy grassfed beef from a local producer. So my consumption becomes his production.

    I think I live close-ish to you! Would trade you my honey for some meat bird raising knowledge ( have hens for eggs already).

    1. Local honey? Barter? YES! If you comment with your email address, I can send a note to you. All comments are moderated. I won't publish your comment.