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Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  331 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Why are so few peak oil authors women? There's been much debate about this, and no one has yet arrived at a definitive answer. But whatever the reason, Sharon Astyk has established herself as a true rarity within the peak oil community by virtue of being a woman who has chosen to write about peak oil. The perspective she offers is thus both uncommon and vital.
In Depletion
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by New Society Publishers
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Brwwrghwha (view spoiler). What to say, where to begin? One of Astyk's ideas here is of the Home Front in war, and to play with the image a little I had the feeling that she was spreading her resources so thinly on so many different fronts that she doesn't really achieve a breakthrough let alone conclusive victory on any of them. A personal problem is that a book like this tempts my mind to lope over the landscape like a polar bear in search of ...more
Tina Cipolla
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is WOW! This book was great. So far the single best book on sustainable living in a peak oil, peak recession (depression) world. Lots of excellent advice on how to survive a crisis such as a natural disaster, economic collapse and very highly practical advice on how to survive in a "no energy available" situation. It is easy to think that in our modern, 1st world civilization this cannot happen, but in many parts of the world the electricity is only on for a couple hours per day or ...more
Susan Albert
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The subtitle of this book—One Woman's Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times—pretty much tells the story.

This is not just another of those doom-and-gloom, batten-down-the-hatches-and-man-the-lifeboat handbooks we have seen so many of in the past few years. I've read most of those other books, and while they are helpful in understanding why we are where we are (in terms of energy depletion, climate change, and overwhelmin
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wow - this book was a real eye opener for me. Not so much the part about needing to be ready in case of a crisis, but more the ways that we can do that. I loved the ease that Sharon used to discussed Peak Oil and Climate without sounding like a text book. Although I don't see my family turning off our electricity any time soon, we have certainly found ways to conserve more. And we are trying to be less wasteful. We are definitely readopting my mother's and grandmother's way of living, "Use it Up ...more
Feb 17, 2011 rated it liked it
If the dollar crashes, Americans could find themselves living the way that Grandma or Great-Grandma lived in the days of the dust bowl depression. Would it be B-A-D? Sharon Astyk shows us that in many ways, life might actually be enhanced. Less waste, slower pace, more satisfying work, a greater reliance on community, increased physical activity, local food networks--there could be a silver lining to the dark cloud of economic crisis. I do not share the world view of this author, yet find her co ...more
Jennifer Miera
I really enjoyed this book, though I came away desperately wanting to know more specifics on how to prepare for the coming crises. For god's sake, woman, tell me how much food? What kind of pans I should have, how I can heat my house if wood is not an option? Where the heck would I get water in an urban setting? I loved that she is a breast feeding momma who grows and puts up her own food. It's rare to get the family perspective. Survival is a lot different when it's just you or you and a partne ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Very girly.

Oh dear, that's sexist, but dang it, this book is. It's like the Junior League (is there still a Junior League?) version of how to survive the coming end times, post peak oil.

The first half was rehashed ideas of other writers (and since we're a few years past the housing crisis/market crash, it sounds a bit over-urgent). I thought the survival/traditional skills section should have been more about you, the reader, than me, the author. It was very me-me-me, and frankly I don't care wh
Jan 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I find myself incredibly conflicted with this book.

On one hand, I believe that the author is suffering from an extreme case of "The Sky is Falling" syndrome. Sharon Astyk paints a grisly picture of the world economically, environmentally, and politically. Entire continents without power, skyrocketing poverty, and rampant disease are only a few of the coming scenarios that she believes are on the way.
I also must admit that her extreme "environmentalism" seems to me a bit over the top. Phrases
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone who's concerned about Peak Oil and Climate Change. When I watched An Inconvenient Truth and A Crude Awakening a few years ago, I began to see the writing on the wall. The problem I had was, not many of the talking heads in these documentaries were offering concrete suggestions as to what ordinary people like me can or should be doing in light of the coming crises. There was a lot of talk about corporate and government policy change, and technological innovation, but as you ...more
May 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, food
Forecasting a future of reduced oil/energy and increased conflict, Sharon Astyk manages to remind us that what is valuable are our relationships with our family and friends and the communities we build.

At times, I found her alarm and her survivalist advice hard to take - envisioning McMansions as the new slums, counseling the reader to check with friends and family for where you can go with your livestock, advising I should have 6 months of food stored....

She is at her most evocative sharing her
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to enjoy this book. It had such potential but I was just not in the mood for lecture about the end of .....everything. Maybe another day.
Jul 18, 2019 added it
Depletion And Abundance: Life On The New Homefront; OR, One Woman’s Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times. Writer, teacher, blogger, polymath and farmer Sharon Astyk sure chose a long title for this book, though the title does sum it up quite nicely.

This book is a guide. Forgive the cliche but it’s a sort of bible, offering both moral/philosophical direction and actionable practices. Astyk guides us through a good hard l
Keith Farnish
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was going to read Sharon Astyk’s latest, Independence Days first, but then realised that Depletion and Abundance : Life on the New Home Front had to come first, being Sharon’s first solo published venture and, as I would later come to realise, a book which neatly outlines her entire philosophy on sustainable living. As much a personal tale of change and achievement as a manual for sustainable living for the average civilized person, the author’s humble, often self-effacing nature washes over t ...more
Marie S.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bought-in-2019
I share most ideas that Sharon Astyk discusses in the book. We don't know when, but at some point even Europe and America will be harshly shaken up by the way we use environmental resources. It's so easy to stay in denial, to think that we are better off than the rest of the world instead admitting that we've been reaping the food/work/oil of all the other continents. Yeah, sure, unpopular opinion, we should stop stealing other countries and then pretend they are poor because they deserve it.

Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
I underestimated how much this book would be about the alternative title ("One Woman's Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times."). This book is 80% Astyk trying to justify her own personal choices. It is not a how-to manual nor a useful reference book. Astyk occasionally gives suggestions of specific actionable items (ex: insulate your home) but they are always vague and commonsense, so never really pieces of information I ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this when I was concerned about so many things, where my food comes from, what we are doing to the land and the environment in our mass production of food, of things in general. And what will our future look like? And how can I be ready for whatever that is? According to the oil extraction industry, peak oil is a myth. Oil can now be extracted more efficiently (read fracking), and processed more efficiently. which sounds soothing to the ear, until you realize we are still polluting our pl ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is on many homesteaders reading lists. The info is still true, but a bit out of date. I kept being amused by the author's discoveries for instance that inter-generational housing is beneficial, or that families with young children actually need at least one stay home adult, or that sharing economies are going to become increasingly necessary (not a yuppie earth loving self-congratulatory sacrifice). Most thrifty homesteaders have already figured all this out, I guess. As have a million ...more
May 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If I could just recommend one book for everyone I love to read, it would be this one. Sharon Astyk writes the incredible blog, Casaubon's Book, which I only discovered after I had read Depletion and Abundance. If you already know about peak oil (peak everything), economic instability and climate chaos, skip to the middle and begin reading her simple and doable suggestions for a meaningful life through simplicity, family, community, gardening, cooking, etc. I don't find her a bit "preachy," which ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent. This is the book to read after you've read all the horrifying books about peak oil, climate change, and economic collapse, and have started to panic. Instead of promoting a survivalist lifestyle, with a bunker full of 20 years worth of MREs, Astyk offers suggestions on how to gently navigate the transition to a world that can no longer depend on fossil fuels, from the perspective of someone who is - mostly - already living a low energy life. This book brings together many ideas from t ...more
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
I mean...I imagine most of this is true, and perhaps some of my uneasiness is due to a lack of willingness to change...but I refuse to believe that we must take the sky-is-falling attitude and get rid of all of our creature comforts. And as someone trying to go zero waste who drives her car once every two weeks, I don't think that we need to live in a 40 degree house. I think if everybody made more sustainable choices, we'd be far better off. I also don't think her view that almost everybody's j ...more
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I have read so much about peak oil and the approaching collapse of civilization as we know it that this book was more "preaching to the choir" for me. Found myself paging past all of the doom and gloom. I know! I get it!

However, it did challenge me to reconsider how much energy I am using and how to get along with far less. This chick managed to reduce her energy consumption by 90%. Wow.

I figure if I can reduce 10% each year, I can keep ahead of the electric company who wants to raise my rates
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
OK, the current news is depressing, and maybe you're thinking that it's time to pack it all in and live in a shack back in the woods. And I'm kind of with you on that. But Sharon? She's already got her place in the country, and she is doing some AMAZING things with it -- even though she's working her tail off with four kids and a husband and a lot (I mean, A LOT) of farming and food preservation and living more simply -- and she's enjoying life. THAT is what we have to remember: hard times may c ...more
Patrick Cauldwell
Oct 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-home-front
While I may not totally agree with Ms. Astyk's timeline, I certainly agree with the majority of her points about where we are headed and what needs to be done to get out of it or deal with it ourselves. This book is definitely more pessimistic than her book "Independence Days", which I enjoyed a bit more. Depletion and Abundance is, if I could some up, more about the importance of community building than strictly about preparedness in the more survivalist sort of sense.

Well worth reading, altho
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
almost gave it a 5, would do 4 1/2 if possible...this book is much more user friendly for regular people than other things I've read on the topic. And though some of it is scary, it's real, and I am at the same time encouraged to see I've been taking some steps in the right direction.

Our current lifestyle in the US and most of the "First World" is unsustainable. I am already seeing the signs of the increased difficulty of life that the author foresaw. If you are not filthy rich and want to learn
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Most everyone
Recommended to Diana by:
I learned a great deal from this one. The book is auto-biographically written by Astyk to relate her low-input lifestyle and encourage/educate others to do the same. She's clearly well educated on the topics of energy, agriculture, and education, so her arguments come less from an extremist, doomsdayer and more from a realistic, academic perspective.

I appreciated the information and I hope to move towards her way of living.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
The author is pretty extreme. I wouldn't say that I agree with her on everything - I was a little freaked out with her ideas about population control - but she also had a lot of very practical, very useful solutions to living a simpler, less energy intensive life. I did find that to be helpful and informative. Overall, I think it's a worth-while read. However, I would read it with a grain (or 2) of salt. ...more
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I talked a lot about this book while I was reading it. I also finally bought a water filter and started thinking more concretely about emergency preparedness. Her message that things will change but that change can be interesting, challenging and fun resonates. Her idea that life as we know it now cannot continue after peak oil makes sense and is logical. We have to meet the current crisis with ingenuity, resilience and adaptability. I'm in. ...more
This is an important work.

A Peak Oil book with no charts or graphs, wow!

Instead, Sharon Astyk focuses on the practical and ethical issues around living in an world facing the double whammy of energy depletion and climate change.

Go check her excellent blog for more of the same:

Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-issues
The author and her family moved to their farm in New England to reduce their carbon imprint and to learn more self-reliance. I'm not particulary worried about climate change or oil reserves, but I'm all for anything that simplifies life and encourages independence. This book has some great ideas. I loved reading it. ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this on the tail of Orlov's Reinventing Collapse, and while the two share a similar forecast for future events and the breakdown of our society, this one offers more of a pragmatic roadmap for how to weather the storm. It's a bit more positive, but I'm still very indebted to Orlov for setting the stage as a preparation for this book. Lindsay is reading this and loves it too. Hopeful. ...more
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Sharon Astyk is a writer, teacher, blogger, and farmer who raises vegetables, poultry and dairy goats with her family in upstate New York. She and her family use 80% less energy and resources than the average American household. Sharon is a member of the Board of Directors of ASPO-USA and the award-winning author of three previous books including Depletion and Abundance and Independence Days.


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