Why read this?
With the recent global events that have shaken us all, we’ve noticed a dramatic increase in people interested in Permaculture, as self-sufficiency has become a very real and attractive concept to those who want to avoid public spaces like supermarkets and shopping centers. But how does the average Australian, many of whom are renting and now on reduced wages, launch into Permaculture?
Living more sustainably doesn’t necessarily require expensive tools or time-consuming education: in fact, it’s hard-wired to use less not more, and can be achieved in a multitude of ways. With this in mind, we’re writing a series of blogs on how you can incorporate a bit of Permaculture into your everyday life, without a huge outlay of cash, while living in a rental property.
Where to begin?
For the beginner, we find a great way to launch into Permaculture living is to get familiar with the basic ethics (Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share), then the 12 design principles and start by applying the first of them – Observe & interact – to the life you already lead. Doing a ‘life audit’ like this allows you to reflect on the things you’re doing to live more sustainably, and identify areas where you’d like to improve. The 12 Permaculture Principles are:
- Observe and interact
- Catch and store energy
- Obtain a yield
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
- Use and value renewable resources and services
- Produce no waste
- Design from patterns to details
- Integrate rather than segregate
- Use small and slow solutions
- Use and value diversity
- Use edges and value the marginal
- Creatively use and respond to change
Once you know these, you can apply them to almost every aspect of your life, and before long, you’ll begin to notice patterns in what you do instinctively, and which of the principles you could incorporate more.
Time to reflect
Here’s an example. Our dinner the other night was a simple, tasty pasta dish using homegrown produce. Breaking down which Permaculture principles were involved looks like this:
– Basil grown from $1 worth of discounted seedlings that’ve been producing for 3 months; (1, 2, 3, 6)
– Leaves from our perpetual spring onion patch (we just let them keep multiplying year after year); (2, 3, 5, 6, 9)
– Thyme from a friend’s garden that we traded for hawthorn berries we foraged; (1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 11)
– Feta that’s kept in the fridge for well over a week as we’ve changed the brine in its airtight op-shopped container a couple of times; (1, 6, 9)
– Mixed tomatoes grown from a 50c discounted seedling punnet (the yellow pear ones were ripened on the vine after the plant was pulled up to make room for winter crops); (1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 11, 12)
– And the most beautiful pasta packet we’ve ever seen, bought three months ago from our local greengrocer so we could support them when the initial Covid19 mayhem hit supermarkets. (1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12)
– What we grew was grown in no-dig layered pots, and trained up old bed frames & chicken wire that were rescued from the side of the road, and fertilised with worm castings created when worms processed our foodscraps in a worm farm made from rescued tubs and bricks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).
You can see how you’d quickly build up an understanding of which principles you’re living, and which ones could do with a bit of work, can’t you?
So here’s your challenge for the week: choose one thing you’ve done that ‘feels’ like it was sustainably minded, and see how the 12 Permaculture Principles can be applied to it. Write it down on a bit of (reused) paper, listing all the tiny components and actions that have gone into it: get really specific! Use it as a chance to celebrate the things you’re doing well, because nothing motivates us humans better than positive reinforcement.
Once you’ve listed all the ways the 12 Permaculture Principles have been involved, do a tally of which principles appear the most. This will help highlight which areas you’re covering instinctively, and gaps will alert you to areas where you might like to improve.
Then put your audit somewhere visible for the rest of the week, so you’re prompted to remember the exercise every day. This visual reminder will help you feel positive about the things you’re already doing, and will encourage you to make modifications in other areas as you go. You might like to do a simple audit like this each week, and keep the results in a running table somewhere. This can be a brilliant way to track growth and stay aware of your goals. It also makes for a wonderful reflection document: we recently looked back at some audits from 2 years ago, and were really chuffed to realize just how much we’ve grown, and it’s all been by implementing simple small and slow solutions (principle 9).
Let us know about your successes in the comments: we’d love to hear what you’re doing to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Next time: How you can grow your own food in a rental property, using Permaculture Principles and very little money.