Some talk of how very challenging it is to go full permie made me wonder if we could come up with easy steps. Like 1 little step a month and in 10 years you'll be at 100% without the stress of many major life changes at once. Lots of people start with the garden, but it doesn't necessarily have to be there.
I'll give examples and maybe you all can add to it:
That's where I got the idea of "bricks" but some of those are huge, like a rocket mass heater. Between permits, heavy loads of dirt, mixing cob, and learning the whole science most people are going to throw up a white flag. I'm thinking smaller nibbles in general, like the whole using a heated blanket instead of a space heater. Not that we don't also need huge bricks, but if we can get 1 billion people to take on 10 stupidly simple bricks we'll make a bigger dent than if we get 1,000 people to take on one huge brick. So, if we list both, then maybe we can cover everyone?
I don't think many people will grow their own food if (1) They don't know what food is, and (2) They don't know how to cook it. So, the first bricks I would give people are the ones my husband first took: learning what food is, and how to cook it.
Very early level:
Read the ingredients in your food
Learn how to store common veggies and fruits: carrots, potatoes, onions, lettuce, apples, berries, peas, tomatoes
If you don't have a skillet and a pot, go to the thrift store and buy stainless steel ones.
Get silverware and plates at the Thrift store, if you don't have any
Fry an egg
(NOT necessary for vegan/vegetarians)Cook meat from raw
Soak and prepare beans from dry state
Make a stir fry
Make a soup
Install low-water nozzles on sinks/shower
Get a stainless steel or glass waterbottle
After these skills are learned (or if they are already learnt), one moves on to the skills of growing things. These are ones I think people can do while still in an appartment. The digging and the hammering are skills. I remember when I first tried to swing a hammer. NOTHING happened. I swung that hammer for 10 minutes, and couldn't get the nail in. When I tried to dig a trench, I had no luck, because I had no idea how to dig. These are skills that a lot of people, if they were raised in the city (or even not, as is my case) just don't have.
Buy potted herbs and grow them in your window sill
Make tea from leaves from edible weeds. Start with dandelion
Clean your counter and sink with vinegar and baking soda
Visit thrift stores for clothing
Find a baking sheet at a thrift store
Use reusable bags for grocery shopping
Cook one thing from scratch per week
Make cloth napkins, or get some at the thrift store
Plant a start of something that grows REALLY EASILY in your area, like raspberries or strawberries.
Cool your house at night by opening your windows (if you don't live in a high-crime area)
Accrue a few fans to help keep you cool without as much AC
Cook three things from scratch per week
Combine shopping trips--if you're going to one place, think of where else you need to go that's in the same area. And, if the errand can wait a day, let it wait in case you think of other things you need!
Make or get cotton washrags to wipe down messes
That's all I've got so far: I've got to go to bed!
Nicole, good point on the manual labor. My hubby shovels at about 1/2 the speed I do and tires in 1/2 the time, which makes it about 4x harder for him to move dirt than me. You can't start with swales in a situation such as that.
Make yourself trail mix from store-bought ingredients.
Read 1 package of ingredients per meal. (As you said, but if all you buy is packaged food, you'll never leave the store if you have to read them all there)
Drink 1 drink of water a day.
Have work/getting dirty clothes.
Spend 10 minutes in your yard any day not dangerously hot or dangerously cold. You don't have to do anything other than exist there.
I would save making a stir fry and soup for level 2. I think noodles and store bought pasta sauce might be level 1. I guess the Wheaton ecoscale this would be stuff to go from 0 to 1. To make this realistic, should we say: someone is going to spend 1 year at levels 0-2, 2 years at level 3, 3 years at level 4, 4 years at level 5, 5 years at level 6, and by then they are at 100% sustainable?
Level 1 Continued:
Watching a food system documentary, such as Food Inc.
Or read a book such as the Omnivore's Dilemma.
Buy a fan and use that instead of air conditioning.
Buy a heated blanket or chair mat (that won't catch flame) instead of a space heater if you are sitting for a long time.
Reusable food containers
Start two ingredients, 3 steps or less cooking. Learn a new recipe each week.
Visit a farmer's market or u-pick
Use your window treatments to help regulate your home temperature.
Try a cold drink when your hot and a hot drink when your cold.
Get a reusable coffee filter or tea balls
Eat fruit, veggies, and nuts for snacks, as well as baked or processed stuff occasionally.
Switch two main purchased foods to organic.
Start learning more complicated recipes using store bought ingredients.
Plant 3 plants you would like to eat from a garden store. Plant them in a protected area you can see them every day, like your front steps.
Hmmmm, you could make the first post a Wiki, and then everyone could comment and also add to the wiki and everything would be in the same place, (if you can't access the edit button, I can put it on "almost-a-post" and open the edit button back up for you,)
level 1: Thinking about the environment. Bought some "better" light bulbs. Trying some recycling. Reads an article or two. Buys some organic food. Their power bill is less than average. Learning about how composting is done. Carbon footprint is 59 tons.
level 2: Has a recycling system. Reads at least one article a week. Power bill is 80% of average. 30% of purchased food is organic. 10% of purchased food is local. Is growing a small garden. Has a compost pile. Learning about natural building. Has attended some free workshops and lectures. Maybe read a book. Carbon footprint is 57 tons.
level 3: Is contemplating "zero waste" and is producing about a tenth of the landfill material as the average person. Has a pretty good sized organic garden - grows about 20% of their own food. 80% of purchased food is organic. 2% of food is wildcrafted. Power bill is half of the average. Reads something almost every day. Has read a few things about permaculture. Has read at least a couple dozen books. Has attended several paid workshops. Pooless. No more fluorescent light bulbs. Avid composter. Has eliminated 95% of the toxic gick from their home. Very concerned about environmental problems. Carbon footprint is 45 tons.
level 4: Grows 50% of their own food. 95% of purchased food is organic. 8% of food is wildcrafted. Passionately studying permaculture. Incandescent lights are preferred and used wisely. Power bill is 30% of average. Carbon footprint is 15 tons.
level 5: taken a PDC. Grows 90% of their own food. Participating in building/sharing knowledge online. Might teach a small, free class or workshop. Carbon footprint is zero.
level 6: Living a footprint that is 10 times lighter than average. Maybe living in community. Maybe living in something very small. Actively sharing knowledge and starting to get paid to teach. Carbon footprint is -30 tons.
level 7: Teaching PDCs. Carbon footprint is -200 tons.
level 8: Doing things that are improving the world in big ways. Carbon footprint is -1000 tons.