Ognen Duzlevski bio photo

Ognen Duzlevski

Senior tinkerer.

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One of the reasons why we moved to S/SW Virginia is to be more food and energy self-sufficient. We grow our own food, make our own honey, heat using wood from our property, have eggs from our hens, grow hay for our horses, so on and so on. Well, at least that’s the idea - it does take time to make it there as it is not an instant-switch process but a long-term, gradual iterative improvement kind of a thing. One observation that I have is that there seems to be a general trend among homesteaders and self-sufficiency folk to move to the boonies with the same goals, however, to also do that with the implied assumption that whatever they need (due to lack of access to easy city shopping), can be ordered online from Amazon or Walmart or the myriad of other choices we have these days.

To me, being self-sufficient and homesteading are anti-thetical to being dependent on Amazon. Social impact of Amazon dominating the markets aside, moving somewhere rural knowing that you can always fall back on online shopping kind of seems like a step backwards. We should be working harder to make everything ourselves and if we cannot, to barter locally with others of similar persuasion.

For example, I used to buy soymilk and tofu, then we decided to start making it - for this I used to buy soy online, now I buy it from a local farmer. Online a pound of soybeans will set you back at least $2, locally I was able to buy it for 30 cents! This year I am planning on planting soy, as well as a myriad of other grains, beans and legumes that I used to purchase online.

When I look back on my Amazon shopping history (I have been an Amazon member since 1999 and a Prime member since 2006!), I can honestly say that I have spent literally thousands of dollars on useless junk I thought I need. Easy availability of both money and goods usually results in being parted from your money and buying goods most of which you cannot even remember anymore. These days I strive to not spend anything if I can help it and to make everything else (if I can help it).

Finally, let us consider the sustainability aspect of shopping on Amazon.com (and/or other online retailers): Western societies are very adept at living by the “fine print”. In this case, living by the fine print means washing one’s hands off a major impact of an individual decision, based on a small aspect of an action. In our concrete example here, most people feel that saving money online (and creating a monopoly such as Amazon), causing untold amounts of carbon to be used in the transportation process and all the other negative aspects of Amazon already discussed - is somehow offset by the fact that the products purchased are marked “green” or “sustainable”. In other words, buying that “environmentally friendly” thing from South America or Asia somehow makes everything else that is bad wash away.

Beware of double standards, my friends! Local is the way to go, always! At the end of the day, maybe drinking that special green tea from Fujian province is not what is needed. Maybe drinking (or better yet, growing!) tea that is local is the answer. A person is probably better adapted to it anyways.

So, as a result, I have cancelled my Amazon Prime membership, 2018 was the last year I made Jeff Bezos rich, But, more importantly, as our homestead gets more self-sufficient, I am moving in the right direction - one of utilizing my land better, one of lessening my household’s environmental impact and one of becoming a part of the local food/goods chain.