What is Permaculture?
Updated: May 26
We hear a lot about permaculture, especially if we read many articles and watch videos focused on living sustainably, eco-friendly, and zero-waste. Permaculture was once only about agriculture and growing food, but today is much more—it is a philosophy on how to live more naturally. To learn more about permaculture and its main principles and how to implement them in your daily life, read on.
Writer Emma Chapman defines permaculture in the following way: "Permaculture, originally 'Permanent Agriculture,' is often viewed as a set of gardening techniques, but it has in fact developed into a whole design philosophy and for some people a philosophy for life. Its central theme is the creation of human systems which provide for human needs but use many natural elements and draw inspiration from natural ecosystems. Its goals and priorities coincide with what many people see as the core requirements for sustainability."
Permaculture gives us an idea of growing food, building houses, creating communities, and minimizing environmental impact simultaneously. People worldwide are constantly developing the principles of permaculture, living in very different climates and cultural circumstances.
Permaculture tells us three important things: how to care for the planet, the people, and how to share fairly.
Moreover, twelve principles describe what permaculture actually is and how to implement it in our daily lives. Read on to find out more about them.
1. Observe and Interact
When we pay attention to our thoughts and actions, we can see what can and needs to be changed in order to live in harmony with nature. For example, if we constantly buy plastic bags at the store, when we pay attention to that behavior, we can change it and take reusable bags next time with ourselves. The same is with food waste; either stop buying excessive amounts of food or find creative ways to use it all up and waste nothing (smoothies, freezing, homemade cake, all those are great ways to reduce food waste). This principle can be applied to almost every aspect of our life; stop wrong actions and replace them with good ones.
2. Catch and Store Energy
There are many ways to catch and store energy, from placing solar panels on your roof to growing your herbs at the windowsill. It is very simple to use those things nature selflessly provides us with on a daily basis.
3. Obtain a Yield
Yields can be both tangible and intangible. We can quickly obtain tangible ones, for example, by using organic gardening techniques and even more easily gain intangible ones such as happiness and joy of living. And then share them with the people around you.
4. Apply Self-Regulation and Feedback
Think about actions and things you succeeded and failed at and learn from them. For example, if you think about stuff you bring home from the store, you can make better future decisions—reduce impulse buys, unnecessary items, and, in the end, things that ends up in a landfill. (Not to mention you will save a lot of money, by the way).
5. Use and Value Renewables
The power of the sun, water, or wind can be easily used for many things, from growing our food to powering our homes. By using renewables, you are not protecting the Earth, but you are creating a better future for all as well.
6. Produce No Waste
A zero-waste lifestyle can seem daunting at first, but it is not that hard at all. It is essential to start, even with the simplest zero-waste decisions, and you will see how easy it is to upgrade them. Read here more about how to make a great start at a zero-waste lifestyle.
7. Design from Patterns to Details
Look at the big picture first, and then figure out the details. It does not matter whether it is about your new zero-waste lifestyle or starting an organic garden. When you see where you are heading, it is way easier to start.
8. Integrate Don't Segregate
Are all people surrounding you the same, or do they differ in various ways? The same is with every aspect of life—if everything were the same, not only would it be boring, but it would disappear over time because it would lose its ability to adapt.
9. Use Small, Slow Solutions
An old Chinese proverb says that a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step, and it could not be more true. If you make simple decisions that are easily implemented in your daily life, it will be easier to make more complex decisions over time. Still, the funny thing is that you will not notice they are that difficult or complex at all over time.
10. Use and Value Diversity
Our plates should be full of colors, our friends should have various qualities, and we should have different interests. This is the only way to thrive, not only as an individual but as a society as a whole.
11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal
As mentioned above, we should use what we have at our disposal, from things we have in our pantry to room in our house. Therefore, buy and use ugly produce shoved in the corner, use up that rice you already have, and even think outside the box in some occasions.
12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change
Many things can be used in more than one way, and it only depends on whether we see all those possibilities. Also, this way of creative thinking makes response to change more straightforward since we have already been productively looking at things that surround us, looking for original and innovative solutions.
When you think about these principles, you will see they are nothing new or revolutionary; they just provide a structured guideline for living more sustainably and in harmony with nature. And, what is very interesting, developing and implementing them does not require supernatural effort, just our attention and focus on our actions. By following the principles mentioned earlier, it will be easier to live more sustainably and eco-friendly. And in the end, not only will the environment and the planet be thankful, but the people who will come after us.