Sustainable habits that our visitors find weird

by Liz Beavis
Its not until we have visitors, or we stay away from home, that we realise how weird some of our habits might seem to other people.  If you are trying to live a simple, frugal, self-reliant or sustainable life, you probably have some weird habits too.  I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours....

1. We eat what we grow
Sometimes people bring us packaged food from the supermarket.  Honestly we don't need any food, if anything we have too much food.  We have all the meat, vegetables, eggs and milk we can eat at the moment.  I actually got a little stressed out recently by exactly how much food we HAVE at the moment.  Please don't buy food for us, but we would love to share what you grow yourself.  When I want to take something to share with someone else, I usually want to grab something out of the garden, is it weird to turn up with a kg of tomatoes, or a carton of eggs?  

eight acres: weird sustainable habits for a self-sufficient life
veges from our garden

2. We don't make much "rubbish"
Firstly, we line our rubbish bin with newspaper, rather than using a bin bag.  Second all our vege scraps go into the worm farm(s) - we have two worm farms!  We try not to buy things with packaging and always take green bags shopping, so we probably only needed to put out the wheelie bin once a month if it didn't get too stinky (and now we don't even have a council rubbish collection, so we take our bin to the local transfer station about once a month).  I also hoard things that might be useful, like envelopes, scraps of plain paper, rubber bands, paper bags, glass jars and bottles, and buttons.... we don't have recycling here in the South Burnett anymore, so reusing is our only option.

eight acres: weird sustainable habits for a self-sufficient life
my button collection

3. We conserve water
We collect rainwater in tanks, and that's all we have for drinking, cooking, washing up, showering, laundry and for the chickens and garden.  We don't waste water.  And I mean we really don't, not like when you have town water and you kind of try not to use it much.  This is our only water supply.  If we run out of water, we have to buy town water, and the town water around here is pretty awful, we really don't want to have to buy it, so we don't have to wait to be put on water restrictions!  We take a bath (one between two) or a very quick shower.  I only wash clothes when they are dirty (sometimes I wear them again several times).  For the toilet we follow the mantra "if its yellow, let it mellow", if we have visitors I have to remember to flush.    

eight acres: weird sustainable habits for a self-sufficient life
a large green frog (and our toilet)

4.  Our bathroom shelves are empty
We don't have any hair products (not even shampoo), make up or other clutter in our bathroom.  I only realise how weird this looks when I see other people's bathrooms full of products!  We only have soap, a few jars of salve and some essential oils.  One visitor asked if I had any cream for toe fungus.  No, I just use neem oil for that.  If you forget to bring your cosmetics, good luck, because I probably won't have what you want, but I can offer a crunchy alternative!

eight acres: weird sustainable habits for a self-sufficient life
homemade herbal skin salve

5. We don't give presents
We do give gifts sometimes, if we see something that someone might like, but we don't do Christmas or Birthday presents at all.  Our family and friends know this and know not to expect anything.  It really does reduce the stress of buying STUFF at Christmas.  If anything, I prefer to give homemade or homegrown gifts when they are available, but not to a schedule.

6. We buy local even if it costs a little more
We make a big effort to support the shops in our local town, and our monthly farmers market.  We always use the local supermarket and hardware store, even though there are larger options in the next town over.  I don't mind paying a little more for the convenience of having a shop closer to us, and supporting our community.  We recently changed our bank to a local building society branch too.

eight acres: weird sustainable habits for a self-sufficient life
shopping at our local farmers market

7. We don't have a clothes drier
But we do have a mincer and dehydrator.... we did have a clothes drier in the back of the shed for 5 years, never used, so we left that at the dump shop.  We seem to manage without it, seeing as it doesn't rain much!

eight acres: weird sustainable habits for a self-sufficient life
we use a solar clothes drier (and there's our rainwater tanks too)

8. We use our electric oven to store oven trays (not for cooking)
In winter we used to cook everything on our woodstove, but our new one doesn't have an oven, I still use the top for cooking casseroles (we made sure to get one that still got hot on top). And in summer, its so hot, we prefer to use the gas BBQ or the slow cooker, so our electric oven very rarely gets used.

eight acres: weird sustainable habits for a self-sufficient life
our woodstove

I'm sure there are more, but that's all I can think of right now!  So its your turn now, what weird habits do you have that you only notice when other people are around?


  • Liz (Eight Acres)

    I love all of these weird habits! Thanks for all your comments :)

  • Prudence

    Meat and plastic.
    I note people are curious what to use to store their fresh meat in. We have searched high and low for plastic bag that will breakdown with no success. What we do say to our customers now is that we only butcher local traceable cows in a cow share model so people are buying in bulk, is All meat is cryovac in plastic to protect it. It’s only wrapped once yes single use BUT it hasn’t travelled hundreds of KMs, hasn’t been packed into plastic at least three times before you get it.
    So yes you are using single use packaging but know your meat was only wrapped in it once so one piece of plastic to breakdown.
    Raw meat will always be a challenge but being aware of how many times your meat has been wrapped, how far it travels, how long it has been in cold storage at a cutting facility all weighs up.
    Rarely these days is meat butchered from the carcass direct to the consumer in many retail environments (esp supermarkets) so it’s cut packed and boxed and shipped to varies locations where it’s cut and packed again before reaching to consumer.

  • Laura

    I can relate to so many of these points and some of the comments too. Things that are such a part of our day to day can seem a little strange when viewed through the eyes of visitors. I normally give visitors a warning on the toilet that the 4 year old is still learning about flushing – but in reality it’s probably me letting it mellow ;)

  • Robyn

    I keep a watering can in the shower. I have a hand-held shower rose and I use it to run the hot tap into the watering can while I wait for it to get hot. I get about half a can per day. If I am washing that day I use a bucket and put the water into the machine, which pumps out via an added hose onto my garden. (I move the end as it is pumping out.) I am on town water now, but once you have lived with tanks you hate to watch reusable water go down the drain.

  • Kate

    I can relate to this! Especially the empty bathroom shelves and the full kitchen benches.

    But it prompted a question: I know you home butcher your beef, so what do you use to freeze it in? I am searching for alternatives to plastic bags, and its proving a tough puzzle to figure out…

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