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on 14 August 2010
Even for those of us who recycle, shun supermarkets, cut waste and cook - there are fresh tips to be found in this little book which can be read cover to cover in one short sitting. We grow what we can and have cut down food and packaging waste by only buying what we need so we thought we were doing ok. But this little book flagged up the fact that we really don't need to run the dishwasher for two hours on eco - 30mins does the job fine and slashes the energy cost; we always check and switch off our standbys but we'd overlooked the 'phones on charge all the time and the 'sleeping' computer; we'd forgotten how delicious bread and butter pud can be - considering it's made largely of stale bread and above all - we'd forgotten how rewarding life is when waste is cut, achievement is a daily event with home grown veg, home made jams and chutney etc and the freezer is full - all without the grind (and fuel cost) of the supermarket and the groan of the bills. It's not about austerity or frugality - it's about living a good life. If I have one complaint it's about some of the comments regarding water saving - that it's not all that important in a country as wet as the UK. Well even here in Wales with our rainfall we had drought orders this year - and let's face it water, like everything else is a precious resource - we should be using it wisely. It's easy to put this book aside and say 'well I knew that before I bought the book, it's just common sense' - but the key thing is not just knowing, it's doing. And don't say you haven't got the time - we both work full time, long hours - and this is a darn site more rewarding and relaxing than reality TV!
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on 5 May 2010
I bought this book partly in response to the recession and partly because I was curious about keeping hens in a built up area. It's a lovely book with an inviting and cosy writing style which made me dip in and read more every time I passed it - I even took it to bed! I loved the recipes and was a bit shocked to read about the commercial bread making process. I've found tips on everything from making the most of supermarket offers to storing vegetables. John Harrison writes like your uncle and I shall dip into his book regularly. As a manual it would need to be too big to carry around but as a motivational starter it's just perfect. We need more common sense like this.
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on 11 July 2009
I love the way this book shows how a less consumerist, more ecological lifestyle can also be more economical. I am also impressed by how it is helpful to those who are new to the concept as well as to those (like me) who are already converted.
It's very well organised and also indexed, so can be read cover to cover and just dipped into when you want information about something specific, and the basic guidance is nicely laced with interesting facts and background information.
The first half is all about food, (including recipes), and the second half covers the other aspects of our lives where savings can be made, and the environment treated a little more respectfully.
I am sure that anyone buying it will save the (minimal) cost of the book many times over by following the advice within it!
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on 29 July 2009
Excellent - easy to read and extremely informative! From someone who loses interest part way through most books - that's one heck of a compliment! Would highly recommend. We are looking to move to France and becoming self sufficient - this book will definitely help. I bought the author's other books - all very well written.
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on 29 December 2010
A very nice book with many hands-on tips on things one can do to reduce costs in life and get time over for other things.

I like the writers view that you should find out how far you're willing to go yourself. Many other books and sources claim you should do "everything" including shearing your own sheep, spin your yarn, weave your cloth and sew your own clothes by hand. That's not a life for everyone and might turn people away from getting a bit of interest in how they consume and how they can change it for the better. Not only for the environment - but for themselves too getting better products lasting longer!

For someone already baking their own bread, mending some clothes, cooking from basic ingredients etc maybe this book doesn't have so much new information. But it's a good inspiration to see how someone else has changed his life, without sacrificing upon good standards.

For me, also some information about what's legal in food production also made me think a bit more. I already knew things were bad and that some dubious substances go into our food, but here I got some new information that made me even more read on the labels in the supermarket.

In short: A good inspirational book that is written in a very sympathic way, but probably mostly aimed for the beginner in self-sufficient living.
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on 20 July 2010
Great book with lots of handy money saving tips. Also had some good recipes to make with home grown foods. I did feel that some of the suggestions were more inclined towards country living that high rise apartment, however a good read all the same.
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on 8 April 2010
Having just bought this along with Pre-cycle I personally found this more useful to me in my dabblings with a simple life.

I found the recipes useful ( and easy to convert to vegetarian recipes) I advice about the 'best before' and 'use by' dates on food I often took the 'best before' to be the same as 'use by'nd it was refreshing to see an author of this type of book saying its ok to use a microwave or a bread machine.

I also found the section of freezing fresh vegetables very useful. as often threw away veg I was sure I was'nt going to eat now i will freeze.

The growing of food/storage was interesting but irrelevant to a flat inhabitant.

Also good to hear from a fellow charity shop and dumpster dive hound like myself.
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on 13 December 2010
I found this book full of practical and useful advice. Admittedly most of what it told me I already knew, but to be reminded of the things you could be doing motivates you to go and do it. The book is written in a friendly, kindly way which is easy to read. I was a bit disappointed that it didn't give a failsafe white bread recipe and I didn't agree with some of the things he said about food safety.
I would recommend this book for people starting down the road towards self-sufficiency, but for an experienced and intelligent person some of the information in the book is pretty obvious.
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on 8 June 2011
Did you know that you can buy food from supermarkets at a reduced price when they are close to their use-by date, and then freeze them? Or that you can grow your own vegetables in your garden? Or that using low-energy lightbulbs will reduce your expenditure on electricity? No? Then this is the book for you. However, if you already knew this, but wanted some more know-how or substance, then find another book. This is a very superficial look at ways to reduce your impact on the environment and your wallet, but does not contain enough detail or new ideas to be worth buying, unless you are prepared to buy lots of other books to find the information that you need to have the impact that you are after.

A better option is The Self Sufficient-ish Bible
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on 15 June 2010
Great little reference guide for anyone into their vegetable plot. Lots of useful stuff like how to store produce. Very cheap and very cheerful.
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