Self-sufficiency refers to the state of not requiring any outside aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy. On a large scale, a totally self-sufficient economy that does not trade with the outside world is called an autarky.

The term self-sufficiency is usually applied to varieties of sustainable living in which nothing is consumed outside of what is produced by the self-sufficient individuals. Examples of attempts at self-sufficiency in North America include voluntary simplicity, homesteading, survivalism, and the back-to-the-land movement.

According to Michael Allaby and Peter Bunyard, “there is nothing really new in the search of “self-sufficiency”. The pioneers who first colonized the New World, Australia, and parts of Africa were self-sufficient because they had to be and, in this context, the term suggests a kind of rugged independence associated with mastering a new and rather hostile environment.”[1]

Practices that enable or aid self-sufficiency include autonomous building, permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.

The term is also applied to limited forms of self-sufficiency, for example growing one's own food or becoming economically independent of state subsidies.

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