How to Live like a Pioneer

If leg warmers could make a comeback, then so can the eco-friendly ways of our forefathers. See if you have what it takes to turn back the clock and rock the less-is-more trend.

You will need

  • Log cabin
  • Outhouse
  • Food preservation skills
  • Large cooking pot
  • Fireplace
  • Homemade soap
  • Newspaper
  • Quilting and square-dancing talent

Step 1 Build yourself a home Move into a 1-room log cabin — that you build yourself. Make sure it’s near a water source, because you won’t have indoor plumbing. Or outdoor plumbing, for that matter. Hello, outhouse!

Step 2 Get cooking! Learn how to salt, smoke, pickle, can, and preserve; you won’t have a refrigerator. Become proficient at 1-pot meals: You’ll be cooking everything in a large kettle over your fireplace. You did build a fireplace, didn’t you?

Step 3 Embrace dirt Get used to smelling a little gamy: Your whole family will be taking turns bathing in a single tub of water, once a week, with soap you make yourself out of lye and grease. Afterwards, use the dirty bath water to clean the cabin. Now that’s recycling!

Step 4 Give away your electronics Give away all your electronics and enjoy simpler pastimes. Pioneers often pasted layers of newspaper to their walls for both insulation and entertainment. You can also take up quilting and square dancing — 2 more favorite leisure activities on the frontier.

Step 5 Learn your lesson Not quite ready to shove your belongings into a covered wagon and head into the sunset? Try bringing a bit of the pioneer sensibility into your modern lifestyle. Just think of all the water you’ll save by not flushing!