The minds behind the Self Sufficient-ish website, which aims to help people find out about becoming more self sufficient and live a lower impact lifestyle whilst still enjoying the conveniences of modern life have published their pearls of wisdom in The Self Sufficient-ish Bible.
The 6th August 2009 saw the launch of the paperback version of Andy and Dave Hamilton’s guide to urban self sufficiency. Following on from the launch, we have an exclusive interview with one of the authors, Andy Hamilton, and posed a few questions about his thoughts on self sufficiency and how people can reduce their carbon emissions. In line with this we are giving away a free copy of the Self Sufficient-ish Bible; details available at the end of the interview.
What was your inspiration for the Self Sufficient-ish Bible?
It’s a funny question really as there was no one book or person that inspired us to write the Self Sufficient-ish Bible. In fact quite the opposite, we found a distinct lack of good books telling people how to be self sufficient-ish especially if you live in a town house. It was this lack of literature that created the website and the subsequent book. What we have always said is that it is the book we wanted for ourselves back in 2004 when we first started the website. They have been books that told people how to be self sufficient if you have 5 cows and 6 acres of land and books telling you how wrong everything you are doing is but nothing that spoke to everyone and offered good practical advice.
If you could offer one gem of wisdom to people looking to be more self sufficient, what would it be and why?
Don’t try and do everything straight away, work up to it and don’t give up. A good example of this is people who take on allotments. On my allotment I have seen many people come and go, generally in their second year. The first year they are very enthusiastic and are up there every day but they tend to take on a full plot, which for one person who works full time is a lot to take on. Instead of scaling down they tend to leave, it’s a shame and I am sure that if they only took on a bit they would still be there now.
Do you think there should be more support available from councils and governments to help people support themselves more?
To be fair some councils are ok and do offer support, I think people need to be aware that they can talk to their council. In fact I suggested to Bristol City Council that a scheme allowing individuals to rent or own wind turbines put up on council land should be run and they are looking into it. I will admit that some of the ideas I suggest to the council are dismissed for whatever reason but then they are possibly rather outlandish and the council has a bit of political juggling game to play and have to be careful with what they are doing with our money.
I do think we the people need to start badgering our governments and councils in order to get more support from them. We tend to forget that we voted them in to work for us and that is exactly what they should be doing. You can go to a website called theyworkforyou.com to find out who your MP is and as I do start asking them to work for you. I will state though that whatever anyone might think about politicians to remember that they are people so an angry email might get no response where as a carefully crafted one will yield much better results. MP’s also say for each one email they get on a subject it represents 100 people so if you can get 100 people together on one subject your are much more likely to get support.
In many ways it is not the councils or the governments I am annoyed at but people’s apathy, I am a strong believer in thinking that we can make a difference collectively.
Do you find there is an age-group that is particularly attracted to being self sufficient-ish?
We find on the website a whole range of folk the eldest person to email me was a man from small town midwest America I believe he was 86 and other than mothers posting on the web forum was 16. On our foraging walks it is the same and we have had children as young as 6 happily munching away on wild foods. I think that what selfsufficientish stands for is a return to a slower pace of life and a love of all things natural which is universal.
What do you think of community growing schemes and other similar projects that are starting to become popular? Do you think they are a key way to making the world more self sufficient-ish?
I was walking down the road today and I heard a radio blasting out the news that hospitals were going to give over parts of their grounds to growing fruit and vegetables. For a brief second I felt that I was living in the future. I do indeed think that food will be a massive issue in the future and we will have to think of ways to feed ourselves. What is happening right now with community growing schemes seems like a blueprint for the future. As I said earlier I think together we can make a difference and I applaud anyone who is part of a community growing scheme.
Do you have any favourite green/self sufficiency focused websites that you would recommend to people?
The Green Village! I also thing that the folk over at Downsizer are doing a good job and I pop in there now and then. Other than that I tend not to have that much time to go on the internet at the moment.
Are there any films/TV programmes or documentaries on environmental subjects that have inspired you recently?
Farm for the future that was shown as part of the BBC 2 Natural world season a few months ago was the last thing that really inspired me. The idea of forest gardening is one that I am keen to look into.
If you could introduce a new law to help cut carbon emissions and environmental impact, what would it be?
I would want to implement many, starting with making companies liable for the rubbish they create and the disposal of it. I would also want to see every single new house built using Earthship technology so that they were as self sufficient as possible and as individual as possible, there is nothing worse than seeing a new housing estate springing up with their identical little box houses. On top of that I would want to see a worldwide carbon card setting a carbon limit for everyone on this planet making us all responsible.
I am not sure about the whole idea of taxing people who don’t have an eco friendly house as often they cannot afford it but I do think that there should be a restriction on people who fly too much.
If you would like the chance to get your hands on a copy of Andy and Dave’s guide to urban self sufficiency, answer the question below correctly by sending your answer, name, address and valid email address so we can let you know if you’re successful, through the contact form to be entered into our draw.
When did Andy and Dave start the Self Sufficient-ish website?
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED