Self-sufficiency (also called self-containment) is the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy. On a national 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 simple living, homesteading, off-the-grid, survivalism, DIY ethic and the back-to-the-land movement.
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.
The entire population of the world was, at one time, self-sufficient. They made their own clothing, tools, weapons, boats, huts, and food. They used gathering, hunting, herding and farming to find/hunt/grow their own food. As the human population of the world grew, the wild food supply dwindled. People began to rely on herding and farming more; relying less upon gathering and hunting. In modern times, automated food production on farms makes food. The vast populations now depend on a fewer farmers to make their food for them. Many in developed nations now depend on job salaries to buy food, clothes, and shelter, rather than making these things from raw materials found in the environment. But in a few places in the world, native societies continue to be self-sufficient, never having given up their traditional ways of food gathering and food making. Because these native peoples have no jobs and make no salaries, they are often listed as unemployed.
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