REPUBLIC, Mo. – Last month Republic High School student, Collin Chastain, began working on a senior project where he would attempt to grow his own food and make his own clothes for a study on self-sustainability.
Chastain’s goal was to see how living a self-reliant lifestyle works and see how it would affect his mental health.
“It’s more of just a project about the human mind and what we can do to be more self-reliant,” said Chastain. “And a way to actually live a self-sustaining lifestyle through growing food, sewing clothes, and then I was tracking my mental and emotional state as I was going throughout this journey.”
After a month of this lifestyle change, he found that self-sustainability was not very practical and that there were a lot of learning challenges.
He says he learned how to grow his own food, but actually harvesting would take much longer than the month he planned for himself.
“What I did find was a way to compensate for the lack of food with a bartering system,” said Chastain. “And so I actually was able to trade my services and skills with my neighbor. I would help them out with little projects and sew pillows and trade them for eggs, mung beans, and alfalfa sprouts.”
He learned to sew two shirts, a pair of pants, and a small backpack.
“I definitely appreciate the way that our world runs, but it definitely has a lower quality than what you would do by making your own stuff,” he said making references to going to grocery and clothing stores.
Chastain says it was a coincidence that his project ended on Earth Day.
“I’m glad it did end on Earth Day, because I realize that self-sustainability is one of the best ways that an individual can help the Earth through reducing your impact on the environmental greenhouse gas emissions,” Chastain said. “The more that we rely on ourselves, the less that we are supporting the demand for fast fashion or industrial practices with our food supply.”
In the beginning, Chastain would quickly realize that he needed materials such as fabric, seeds, and tools just to get started, but that all costed money he did not have.
He and his mother went to Facebook to barter for supplies and money.
Several members of Republic’s community helped fund Chastain’s project raising over $500.
After a month-long vegetarian diet, Chastain said his first meal was a Bourbon Burger from Big Whiskey’s with a side of barbecue and fries.
“It was delicious. I loved it. Made myself sick on it.” said Chastain.