Sunday, 11 March 2018

Skills the world needs us to know

I wrote in a recent blog that when we lose so many of the skills our predecessors knew then we place our lives in the hands of others ... and with just a few large companies holding the greater part of the market share we are left to buy what we need from a small number of super-corporations and they can produce theses goods however they want. These large companies care more for profit than sustainability.  They can use as many pesticides as they see fit, grow GMO crops, use child labour, transport goods all around the world, wrap them in plastic etc etc ... and as consumers our choice to have anything different is lost with the skills to produce these items ourselves.

What skills, therefore, do we need for the sake of saving our planet from further environmental damage?

Hand holding freshly harvested radishes

Skills the world needs us to know


How to cook/bake our own food from scratch
How to use up left-overs to create more meals
How to preserve food - bottling, drying, salting, jam and pickle making etc
Cheese making
Knowing what food is in season when
Growing your own food - how to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs
Raising your own animals - chickens for eggs and meat etc
Butchery skills
How to forage and knowledge of what you can eat
Fishing and hunting

.... will reduce food waste, food miles, unnecessary packaging, factory farming, growing crops under cover out of season, excessive antibiotic use, palm oil use ...


How to make your own clothes
How to mend clothes
How to upcycle one item of clothing into another
How to make cloth and wool
Knitting, crocheting, weaving etc
Leather working

... will reduce excessive use of pesticides on cotton crops etc, reduce the amount of clothes going to landfill ...


Basic First Aid
How to use natural remedies for simple ailments
How to know when a trip to the doctor A&E is really necessary

... will reduce excessive use of medicines and antibiotics, help ease pressure on health services, limit plastic waste ...

Around the House and at Work

How to mend things
Natural cleaning methods - the power of vinegar and bicarb!
DIY of all sorts
Building useful things eg compost bins, solar panels
How to upcycle/repurpose things
Metalwork, Brickwork and Woodwork
Conservation skills - tree care, habitat management etc

...  will reduce consumerism, keep things out of landfill, reduce plastic use, reduce use of harmful chemicals ...

In the past one family would have known a large number of these skills.  Not everyone would know how to do everything but together they would be able to tackle most things.  And when they did lack something they certainly knew how to barter, swapping their excesses for things they were short of either due to their locality or missing skills.

I have tried to keep this list fairly general but as I was writing I kept going back and adding more skills.  In fact, there are hundreds of useful skills we must not lose but if we were all able to say we were competent in just a few of those I have listed think how much environmental damage we could reduce.  How much plastic packing would we not need if we simply grew some of our own vegetables or how much less pesticides would be sprayed if we made our own clothes by upcycling old ones?

I am OK with food and health and have a very practical husband ... but both of us is lacking on the clothes side of things ... I can manage basic mending but have never got to grips with sewing.  So I do the next best thing and buy second hand whenever I can and make do with the clothes I already have.

How do you rate your environmental life skills?  And have you skills I have not included here?

Skills the world needs us to know


  1. It's frightening to think of the skills that are "dying out".

  2. I definitely have a lot of these skills but there are so many I still need to learn for myself and to teach my children.

  3. Hi Rosie, it is scary to think that the more convenient our lifestyle becomes the less independant we become in a strange kind of way... I do posess some of these skills. I am a meat eater but would be hopeless rearing my own meat as I'd name the animals and as my auntie always said, you never name what you plan to eat. I couldn't knock up my clothes either, but don't buy clothes unless I really need them, so I don't feel too bad there... Today I cooked my first batch of sourdough bread risen using my very own sourdough starter, usually I use fresh yeast, but it felt so good to use a yeast I had 'grown'... I totally agree that we should only visit a Dr if it is neccessary, how much time is wasted by people going for the simpliest things expecting a miricle cure when all they need is some hot lemon, ginger and honey and rest.


  4. Rosie!
    I so believe in schools that children should be taught all the basics for if the power ever stopped or the likes, I'm really into the end of the world style programmes haha

    I think it would be amazing to teach children about building fires, making power from things that are around, teaching them how to grow & nurture food etc.

  5. I totally agree with your list. I've been trying to increase my skills but know I am too dependent on others. #goinggreen

  6. Hi Rosie,
    You hit the nail on the head. All these suggestions sure make a difference especially if we teach our children to follow all these tips as part of their daily lives. What a big impact we could have on our environment and health. Sharing on social media.

  7. the 18 year old has learnt more skills over the past 9 months through the internet than I could've ever imagined. since my dad died he's had to live on his own in the UK and has been supporting my mum with her house move and has been doing jobs for and with her from cooking meals from scratch to plumbing in washing machines to rewiring light fittings. My son was also with me the night my father died and had recently completed a first aid in the work place course and was able to support me with recognising the symptoms of a stroke and helping me with the 999 operator whilst we waited for the ambulance to arrive. #goinggreen

  8. Great post, these kind of practice skills are so important and if everyone can do a few then we will always know someone with the right skill. I think in the future the non financial economy of skills swaps or swapping some home made produce for a skill will become more normal. Recently I knitted a cardigan for a friend and she made me a dress. We both used the skills we enjoy most. Ending up with a beautiful unique item each! There are some websites now where you can swap your skills with others. Has anyone used one of these??

  9. I think some of these skills are still very important for kids (and young adults) to learn)
    Basic DIY, basic cooking, basic cooking skills not using expensive and toxic cleaning products, learning to repair clothes, how to maintain a car, fix a bike, plant a garden.
    Some stuff is taught in schools and some by parents. It's a bit scary that many don't know how to do some of them though.
    I am trying to teach my kids as much as I can.

    Thank you for sharing

  10. Great post and reminder of how quickly and easily we have allowed society to be dependent on big corporates, losing our natural skills and communities along the way. Living a greener life does require a little'opting out' I feel as it's so hard to do when surrounded by convenience consumerism. I yesrn for a little smallholding..#GoingGreen

  11. Great post, although it is sad to think about how most people wouldn't know how to survive if our current way of living shut down. Thankfully we live on a big farmstead and are off-grid when it comes to water. We also grow and preserve our own food, and heat with wood. I don't know how to sew a stitch though - so that is something to learn! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Great post, fully agree, we need to become a lot closer to where our food comes from and in general more natural ways of doing things. I will never forget a friend when I was a kid in school who thought potatoes would grow on trees!

  13. I was so fortunate to have parents and grandparents that taught me a large portion of these skills and I find them unbelievably useful in my everyday life. I was brought up on the seven generations principle, and therefore continue to learn more skills in an effort to follow this principle better; most recently I learned how to tan hides and it’s an amazing and fun process and I definitely recommend people at least try it once.

  14. So many skills are being lost. Some of these are things that could be handy in every day life...