Skip to main content

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.


  • 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!
  • TIP: Giving up a bathroom means huge water savings. The average person uses about 80-100 gallons of water a day -- most of it to flush the toilet.
  • 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?
  • TIP: If you live for a year without a refrigerator, you’ll save around $200 and 1,200 or more kilowatt-hours of energy.
  • 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!
  • FACT: Pioneers picked berries with another person so one could be on the lookout for bears, who also enjoyed foraging for fruit.

You Will Need

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

Popular Categories