Permaculture is underpinned and informed by three ethics, we will take a look at what these ethics mean and why they so important to permaculture and the creation of sustainable systems, and ultimately a permanent culture.
Over the next three weeks I will look at each of these ethics in the sense of understanding them within a practical context of what we can actually do to meet each ethic and incorporate them into our daily living.
‘Strive to Survive causing as least suffering as possible’
Flux of Pink Indians
The earth is the very thing that gives us life, it sustains and nurtures us, and without the earth we would not exist, we are an integral part of it, and it is an integral part of us.Therefore on a very basic human level we need to look after the earth as it looks after us, any relationship we have beyond this is really usury and exploitative.The care of the earth includes consideration and accommodation of all living things, such as plants, animals, the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the soil that provides us with healthy food.We shouldn’t just care for the earth because it makes common sense to ensure a sustainable supply of resources to maintain our lives; I believe that we should care for the earth as a means of actually respecting nature and the planet in its own right.
How to care for the earth
In caring for the earth we really need to begin looking at how we live, how we perceive and use resources and how we can reduce the immense strain that is put on the planet by consumer capitalism and the choices that we make.When I first began thinking about this I broke it up into the different areas of resources usage that we use within our every day lives.The levels of what we actually can do within the restraints of late Capitalism are governed somewhat be social position and economic mobility, those with money and resources can do a lot more than those without, and those with more, use up a great deal more of the planets resources than those will less.The examples I given below are what we do at home that relates to caring for the earth, I given my own example as a means of what can be achieved on a low income.
Flora and fauna
Before we look at the way we use resources it is important to look at how we treat other living creatures.The earth care ethic of permaculture applies to the rights of other living things on the planet and our development and understanding of the acknowledgment that they have a place and a habitat on the earth that we do not own and is not subject to our exploitation for economic gain.This applies to how we treat animals; how we treat the land that we come into contact with and all that live within the habitat of the land.
I grow a good deal of the food that we eat on two allotment plots and a South facing back garden.By employing organic methods of cultivation in a very localised setting we are able to cut out fossil fuel usage to virtually nothing, similarly practical aspects of permaculture ensure that our bits of land are gradually developing fertility with each passing year such as growing plant foods and fertilizers on site where it is needed.We also keep chickens in the back garden which provide us with four eggs everyday, the hens also bring fertility to the garden with their poo and they keep the bugs and slugs down when they are foraging in the growing area over the autumn and winter months.
Fuel and energy use
Before me and my partner were laid off as a result of the Bankers credit crunch we fitted a wood burning stove, the stove is powered by seasoned coppiced wood that we cut from a badly managed wooded area near to the estate that we live on, we also collect wood from a local furniture makers who give us bags and bags of hardwood off cuts that burn for ages.I also do a lot of our cooking on my rocket stove in the back garden and am in the process of making an oven attachment so that we can bake bread in it.Using the wood burning and rocket stoves has significantly reduced our dependence on gas and electric.
Ever since the banking sector began plying people with credit cards and loans to pay for the consumer goods that their salaries were unable to, we have been bombarded by an endless stream of goods, gadgets and things for us to buy, throw away, upgrade, and so the story goes. Ever since the banking sector began plying people with credit cards and loans to pay for the consumer goods that their salaries were unable to, we have been bombarded by an endless stream of goods, gadgets and things for us to buy, throw away, upgrade, and so the story goes.I’m sure most people reading this are aware that resources are finite set against the background of an economic system that is acting as if resources are inexhaustible and infinite.If we choose to move away from consuming for consuming sake we really are doing ourselves and the planet a good service.
Earth care for a permanent culture
As part of the ongoing development of a Permanent Culture, the Earth Care ethic is central to the long term fertility and vitality of the earth’s eco systems and all of the flora and fauna that live within these systems.
If we looked at Permaculture as an earth repair manual, the earth care ethic would represent a marked charge in our cultural outlook about he we perceive the planet and all that we take from it, therefore, this ethic represents the beginning of our work as we move towards gradual and slow solutions away from the prevailing Neoliberal politics of the self.