A friend on Facebook had posted an article link to the Root Simple blog a few months ago. I now check this blog frequently for insight into unique approaches to household projects. Root Simple is written by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen from Los Angeles. They have been able to convert a half acre urban property into a functional homestead.
Their first book The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City outlines various methods to convert a city or suburban property into a self sustainable oasis. They detail projects including: gardening, bee keeping, chicken rearing, composting, and home cleaning. This book contains lots of good ideas for urban homesteaders, but as a person living in a small apartment most projects are out of my reach. I don’t think my apartment manager would be cool with bee keeping on our back deck, regardless of how much fun it would be.
I am personally excited for projects contained within Kelly and Erik’s other book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World. It contains basics for cooking, canning and cleaning; as well as a few projects for gardening and composting. There are many ideas within this book that I had never considered to be something I could do on my own like making moisturizing cream, soaps, homemade condiments and fermented sauerkraut to list a few. It even includes how to slaughter a chicken (which happens to be on my life bucket list).
I have been using Making It to switch most of my cleaning products over to simple household ingredients. Using diluted vinegar to mop the floor or clean counters is just as effective and more cost efficient then the random assortment of chemicals in a spray bottle from the store. They recommend baking soda for scrubbing in the kitchen and bathroom. I’ve also learned that essential oils are a great additive to these basic cleaners to create pleasant aromas of lavender, chamomile, spearmint or other scents. Essential oils can seem pricy for a small bottle but they are very concentrated and only a few drops are used at a time so I find it is worth the price.
I recommend that you check these books out if you are feeling like your current consumerist driven household routine needs to be changed. I will be trying some of the projects out myself and updating you all as I go.