12 Rules for a Sustainable Life (A book by David)

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An incremental series of things that you can do to make small but positive differences in the realms of relative sustainability and relative autonomy.


The 12 Rules for a sustainable life are perhaps better thought of as rules with a lower case “r”, or as tips, goals, suggestions, or guidelines that will help you along your journey in relative sustainability and relative autonomy. By autonomy I mean ‘self-directedness’ or ‘self-governance’. The 12 Rules are:

Rule 1: Wash From Buckets

Rule 2: Cap Your Electricity Usage

Rule 3: Do Even More With Less

Rule 4: Cook on a Small Flame

Rule 5: Let Nature be Your Playground

Rule 6: Check Your Buying Behaviour

Rule 7: Respond to the Sun’s Dance

Rule 8: Embrace Muscle Power

Rule 9: Play with a Small Solar System

Rule 10: Catch and Store Water

Rule 11: Heat Your Home with a Thermal Mass Heater

Rule 12: Compost Your Humanure

You might wish to take some of the ‘Rules’ and leave others, and add a few of your own to the mix that works for you. The ones I have chosen are offered in the spirit of treading slightly more softly on this breathtakingly beautiful planet that we are fortunate enough to be able to call Home.

From the book:

“…if you can build a small shed, you can also build a big shed, and a big shed is a small cabin! If you can build a small cabin, then you are within reach of something that might be very appealing to you. That “something” is a form of relative autonomy that few people ever encounter. By autonomy I mean a way of living that is largely self-directed. Maybe some people can be completely self-directed, but most of us need to work for money to pay for things like food and transport. But imagine that you lived in a self-built cabin that required no running costs. You would likely need and even want to work for some money, but you’d need very little of it to be happy.

“I am definitely not saying that you should focus your life on the goal of living in a shed-like cabin. The example is offered because, first, it illustrates how one might go about doing a lot more with very little, and the illustration can be dissected for the principles at play in the process towards a more autonomous and sustainable life. Second, I am drawing from my own experience of having set the goal of living in a small cabin, which I then built after acquiring the necessary skills and experience, and which I have lived in with my partner Emma for a decade. Many of the other Rules in this book have their origins in the journey and outcome of our rustic low-tech experiment in living.”