How many of these can you do?


A friend pointed me to a list of 99 essential skills for the green do-it-yourself-er over at planetgreen.com. How many of these can you do? An interesting exercise in pinpointing weak spots in self-sufficiency. (Mine are crossed off, italicized if I have *some* skills but not enough). Personally, I think a ton of skills are missing from this list – like building a solar oven and cooking with one, root cellaring, doing away with the use of a refrigerator for most of the year, keeping bees, making beer and wine, making medicines from herbs etc. But it’s a starting place….

Essential Food Skills

1. Read and understand product labels
2. Bake bread
3. Make your own bread starter and keep it going
4. Make cheese, yogurt, and kefir from local milk
5. Preserve food by canning
6. Preserve food by drying
7. Forage for local wild foods safely
8. Raise a couple of backyard chickens
9. Make your own tofu,tempeh, and soy milk
10. Eat locally and in season
11. Grind your own flour
12. Grow your own produce
13.Grow your own herbs
14.Grow your own sprouts
15. Blend your own herbal tea
16. Have a repertoire of vegetarian recipes you can use for various occasions
17. Fish or hunt responsibly if you eat meat
18. Make homemade pastas and other pantry basics
19. Cook a variety of foods well
20. Utilize a menu to minimize food waste
21. Throw a party without compromising your green values
22. Make Your Own Vanilla Extract
23. Sharpen kitchen knives so they last
24. Make homemade granola bars, granola, waffles, and other breakfast items
25. Make baked goods from “scratch”.
26. Understand terms like, “organic”, “Fair Trade”, “all natural”, and “GMO”

Essential Household Skills

27. Sew well enough to repair clothing
28. Sew well enough to make your own clothing and reusable shopping bags
29. Sew fitted cloth diapers for your baby
30 .Knit or crochet dishcloths
31. Know how to reupholster a chair
32. Make your own laundry soap
33. Make your own dishwasher detergent
34. Make your own house cleaning supplies
35. Use diatomaceous earth, bay leaves, and other “eco-friendly” natural pest deterrents

Home Maintenance and Repair Skills

36. Use non-electric appliances rather than electric
37. Know where to find non-electric appliances
38. Program a thermostat
39. Tile a counter top
40. Use 0 VOC paint
41. Repair a screen
42. Use a caulk gun
43. Make simple appliance repairs such as replacing belts
44. Find what you need by bartering, or using CraigsList, eBay, and thrift stores
45. Repair a leaky toilet
46. Repair a leaky faucet
47. Replace a faucet
48. Check your home for energy leaks using incense, a candle, or a device that is created for that purpose
49. Unclog a drain without using Drano or harmful chemicals
50. Insulate an attic with eco-friendly insulation

Gardening Skills

51 .Build a compost system
52. Use compost to enrich your soil
53. Plan a garden for your climate
54. Understand xeriscaping
55. Plant a multi-seasonal vegetable garden
56. Build a simple cold frame for salad all year
57. Build frames for raised bed gardens
58. Make a rainwater catchment system
59. Use a manual reel mower
60. Use companion planting methods to control pests
61.Build a bat house to encourage bats and decrease mosquitoes
62. Use predator insects like Praying Mantis to control garden pests
63. Know what heirloom seeds are and why you should use them
64. How to plant open pollinated vegetables for best yields
65. How to save seeds from your own produce
66. Plant trees and bushes to cut your energy bills
67. Use soaker hoses to conserve water
68. Sharpen and maintain tools

Health Skills

69. Know how to use herbs and natural remedies to treat common illnesses
70. Make your own soap
71. Make your own skin care products
72. Use essential oils for health and cleaning
73. Make your own deodorant

Transportation Skills

74. Tune up a bicycle and make repairs
75. Do simple maintenance on your car
76. Arrange or locate a carpool
77. Learn to use hypermiling techniques
78. Plan eco-friendly air travel (((there is no such thing as eco-friendly air travel!)))

Energy Skills

79. Install exterior solar lighting
80. Install a solar panel
81. Know where to find the most eco-friendly, green power source available to you
82. Connect home electronics to power strips for easy shut off
83. Check the wattage of an appliance
84. Calculate annual kilowatt usage

Conservation Skills

85. Use email rather than conventional mail
86. Switch to a paperless office
87. Locate the local library and use it rather than buying books, DVDs, and tapes
88. Adjust your settings on the computer to make it more energy efficient
89. Use skype and other technology to limit the need for travel to conferences
90. Learn to plan eco-friendly vacations, such as camping (and leave no trace)
91. Replace a hobby with an environmentally friendly hobby
92. Locate and use recreational green spaces such as hiking trails, parks, and public gardens
93. Understand and be able to explain what cradle to cradle means
94. Understand and be able to explain what carbon emissions are
95. Understand and be able to calculate a carbon footprint as well as explain what it is
96. Know where to recycle technological items like computers, microwaves, televisions etc.
97. Identify and sort a variety of recyclable materials
98. Know where reusable items can be substituted for disposables
99. Understand and be able to explain cap-and-trade

5 thoughts on “How many of these can you do?

  1. Neat list! I’ll have to get working on more of those.

    I’m surprised you haven’t made sprouts before. I love sprouted lentils for snacks and sandwich ingredients, and it’s a pretty simple process. Plus sprouts are much more nutritious than the seeds they come from.

    I look forward to reading this blog more 🙂

  2. Wow, that’s really neat… I’m going to go through it in more detail and see how I score.

    One thing I do want to say is that I’d highly recommend hiring a professional to “install a solar panel”: depending on the size we’re talking about here, those things can be dangerous. When I took the Intro to Photovoltaics at BCIT, the instructor told us how even practiced electricians have sometimes been blown off roofs because they left the PV plates exposed while wiring them in… As soon as light hits those things, they’re live, and can be generating a lot of current!

  3. One thing that interests me about solar panels (and to which I have not yet seen an answer), is whether or not they are a net energy gain. When one factors in all the mining required for the rare materials, and the industrial production, is the total energy cost of a solar panel actually less than the lifetime output? If not, then we could consider them to be something like a battery…energy is “stored” in one place an time (ie, construction of it), and used up some other time.

    A solar panel has an energy debt to pay off, and if we can’t show that the energy that goes in during mining and construction is less than the energy coming out over the lifetime of the panel, then it’s only the illusion of sustainability.

    Now, in actuality I won’t make any claims either way. It’s just something I hope we can figure out and further consider.

    • Totally! From what I understand (as an enviro-geek as well as an electrical apprentice), solar panels have a huge energy debt. Before investing in them, it’s vital to first focus on insulating walls, installing energy-efficient (high R-value) windows, stopping drafts, and reducing dependence on anything that requires electricity (especially phantom loads). The Baird’s eco-sense house is a good example, I think: They’ve put a huge amount of consideration into reducing their net energy consumption as an intergral component of their PV-fueled electrical system.

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