The COVID-19 pandemic has brought big changes to our lives. Along with lockdowns and self-isolation, supply chain disruption in the UK has caused shortages in some essential goods. As a result, many are reconsidering the way they live. But will the pandemic awaken more interest in self-sufficient, sustainable communities?
What is a self-sufficient community?
This is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as being the quality or state of being able to provide everything you need, especially food, without the help of other people or countries. The most comprehensive example of such a community is one that is not reliant on other people or industries for any living needs.
As this 2012 study shows, such a community is usually associated with ideals such as community housing, protection of the environment, and clean, organic food production. Many well-designed, sustainable ecovillages are springing up around the world, designed to grow food, recycle waste and produce their own energy.
An example of such a sustainable community is the Lammas ecovillage, situated in North Pembrokeshire in Wales. The community is a group of smallholdings, based around permaculture principles. Permaculture, a portmanteau of “permanent culture,” revolves around the ideals of earth care, people care and a fair share for all.
Lammas features dwellings made from natural or recycled materials, food-growing, low-impact living, collective management of energy and pathways, environmental stewardship and land-based businesses. Its goal is to foster a system of land-based reliance for its residents.
However, this full extent of self-sufficiency is not always possible. For example, a community may aim to be self-sufficient in food while relying on outside sources for energy. In such a community, it would be usual to devote areas to growing crops that provide year-round sustenance. Examples include local towns or suburbs sharing food from a land allotment system.
What are the positives of self-sufficient living?
Renewed interest in self-sufficiency has been driven by concerns over environmental factors such as climate change, pollution, our health and wellbeing, and the need to conserve energy. The recent COVID-19 pandemic will only heighten interest in these goals.
Self-sufficient communities feature elements of the circular economy. This, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is based on a closed-loop economy where everything produced in a system is recycled, waste is designed out of the system, and the focus is on the regeneration of the land.
It rejects our current linear extract-consume-dispose society in favour of a circular system of reuse and renewal and has many benefits.
- Preserves the environment
Sustainable communities maintain ecological health, removing waste, pushing renewables, thereby keeping the environment liveable for future generations.
- Promotes thrifty living
Frugality is the new watchword in the current pandemic crisis. Sustainable actions, such as growing one’s own food and sharing with others, support this approach.
- Fosters health and wellbeing
Sustainable communities are usually designed to grow chemical-free produce and promote healthy ways of transport such as cycling or walking. People are growing fresh, local food instead of relying on food that has been transported from other regions, which adds to the “food miles” — the carbon footprint of transportation.
Supports the economy
Sustainable communities are part of a system that focuses on the quality, rather than the quantity, of the larger economy. It supports the value of resources rather than just growth.
After our current crisis, can we expect people to start living more sustainably?
Environmental issues such as climate change and pollution have already moved many people to adopt a more sustainable and healthy way of life. Interest in organic living, recycling and a simpler way of life is growing. And with the availability of solar panels and battery storage, self-sufficient communities are seeing a boom in popularity.
The current pandemic, with its associated disruptions in supply chains, may serve to promote self-sufficient communities. Living in a self-sufficient, sustainable community may well be the answer for people looking for resilience — and less reliance on others — for their essential needs.
As an article in Forbes points out, the COVID-19 pandemic may accelerate existing business trends towards a more sustainable economy. One of these is working from home.
This drive towards sustainability and self-sufficiency may be reflected by individuals. People’s response to any crisis — whether a pandemic, financial crisis or war — is usually to return to stability. To a tried and true way of life. This may mean more individual sustainability measures, such as growing one’s own food or recycling waste. Or it could mean a broader interest in living in a sustainable, caring community.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has people thinking afresh about how they eat, house themselves, store and grow food, and improve their health. The shock of lockdown has even had people rethinking basic hygiene, such as using a high-quality hand sanitiser. Contact us here for further information on how you can order your hand sanitiser supply at a cost-effective price.
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