I know. Sustainability and self-reliance sounds so huge, doesn’t it? But don’t worry. I’m not here to insist that you get sheep and start spinning your own wool to knit a sweater that will keep you warm as you bike to work, stopping to harvest wild greens on the way.


Self-reliance at home

The whole idea behind Attainable Sustainable it that sustainability at some level is within our reach.

Sure, we’ll all still have to buy things at the grocery store. And maybe some aspects of living a more self-reliant lifestyle just aren’t your cup of tea. But look around your home or your office. There’s so much room for improvement. And that’s what brought me here.

I’m still on the path toward better self-reliance myself, but I’ve been on that path long enough that I’ve got knowledge to share.

I’ve had so many people ask me lately how to plant a garden. Or how to make jelly, compost, or raise chickens. Because I’ve been doing these things for most of my adult life, it’s easy for me to share that knowledge.

On the other hand, there are plenty of things I’ve yet to tackle. 

French bread and rolls in a bakery

This site is here because of a conversation I had with one friend about making a more self-sufficient life doable. The idea of foregoing the convenience of modern America and embracing a do-it-yourself attitude is a daunting one for many people. But mostly? It’s about a change in attitude and breaking habits.

In a world where soup comes in a can, pudding from a box, and bread from a bag it’s easy to forget that just a few decades ago those items were made at home from scratch – maybe even from foods grown right outside the door.

Many of those do-it-yourself, make-it-from scratch skills have skipped a generation or two. If you weren’t raised with that knowledge or have very little experience in living a self-sufficient life, how do you get started?

One step at a time

Here’s the ticket: if you make one small change each day to move your family toward being more sustainable and self-sufficient, you will get there. You might not ever plant a garden. But if you can figure out an alternative source for locally grown fruits and vegetables, you’ll support a farmer and eliminate an awful lot of the waste and fuel emissions that come with supermarket produce.

You might not ever install a water catchment system, but maybe you’ll become more aware of your water usage and learn to conserve.

This is one of those areas in which every little effort you make is worth it.

woman sitting on concrete stepsKris, the author

I’ve been a freelance writer for more than a dozen years and have authored several books.

I launched Attainable Sustainable in 2011 to answer the question: What if we could tackle one little actionable step each day to start working toward a more self-reliant lifestyle?

While I shared plenty of information here on the site (and learned ALL THE THINGS about blogging), I’m happy to report that there’s an Attainable Sustainable book out, now, too, published by the folks at National Geographic Books.

I’ve been featured in both online, audio, and print publications such as Apartment Therapy, The New York Times, Acreage Life, Kansas Public Radio, and many more.

Kris, the gardener and chicken wrangler

I grew up in Northern California. While I usually say “on an apple farm,” if I’m honest it was a bit more eclectic than that. Yes, we grew, harvested, and packed apples.

But depending on the year and my dad’s latest wild idea, we also raised chickens for eggs, planted acres of tomatoes, had a pumpkin patch, raised and butchered pigs and a cow, produced apple juice on a commercial level, and started a Christmas tree farm. The only thing that really ever stuck though, was the annual vegetable garden where I learned to grow my own fruits and vegetables from a young age.

I’ve been a home canner for decades and am a certified Master Food Preserver, which means that the canning recipes you find on this site are made using safe processing techniques.

These days, I live in Hawai‘i, with my husband and two grown sons who are off making music and shooting photos of pretty things.

“Hawai‘i!” you might be thinking. “It must be nice to live where everything just grows as if by magic!” I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s not exactly so. Yes, tropical fruit is easy and we are having great luck with bananas. But I can’t grow a zucchini to save my life.

We’re currently focusing on building our soil so maybe someday I can once again grow a vegetable larger than my leg. My flock of chickens thrives here, as do a couple of ducks. We have very few predators and year round green grass which means what I can’t produce in vegetables is made up in spades with fresh eggs.

I’m glad you found your way here!

Updated in 2021.

About the author: Kris Bordessa Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle. She’s a certified Master Food Preserver and longtime gardener who loves to turn the harvest into pantry staples.