You may have heard of Permaculture or perhaps you are interested in getting more ideas on how to live a more sustainable life style. For sure there are many things that require a big investment or take time and patience to change. Like getting a electric car or running our houses of 100% renewable energy. But that said there are some actions we can do in our every day lives that can have a positive impact. That’s what this blog post is about, a handful of ways to easily integrate Permaculture in your life.
So here are some simple ways to start to apply these in almost any context.
1. Grow some veg. It’s a simple and humbling act. Any one can do it, this is top of my list because I believe this helps us to connect with and observe the plant realm. The scale on which you can do this depends on your context. For some it may be as simple as a few pots or hanging baskets of kitchen herbs and edible flowers growing on a windowsill or balcony. For others with a garden it may be making a raised bed and growing some salad and herbs.
It’s fun and does not require much input. If you have children it's great because in my experience they get excited to see things growing, even more so when it comes to harvesting.
Remember it’s all about looking after the soil, this means adding organic compost. If you do that and water well, then the plants will be happy and produce for you. Start small get some experience and if you enjoy it scale up. Grow the things you eat a lot of and try to buy organic seeds, they are easy to find online.
2. Spend more time in nature. All humans love this by default. It can be alone or with your family. It soothes us because we are a part of nature. Some times it’s easy to forget this with the pace of modern life. It gives time for reflection and observations, so we can start to understand how the natural world works, which is full of complex interactions. Record your observations both internally and externally. Permaculture is based on mimicking natural systems and time in nature will always give us insights and often a sense of awe.
3. Buy some organic food. It’s more expensive, that’s true, but it’s getting cheaper all the time. Organic and local is best, famers markets are great as the produce is super fresh, you can talk with the people that grow it and you are supporting local sustainable business. Many markets now have stands that are organic.
Another option is to sign up for a box scheme where you can have a box delivered to your house each week. It’s often seasonal, so it can push you to try new recipes. Remember nature’s designs are perfect and seasonal food is the food that is best for us to eat at that time of year, it contains the minerals and vitamins we need.
Another way to buy organic food at reasonable prices is buying in bulk. Dry things like pasta, rice, lentils, nuts and flour. Some organic farms have open days so you can see what’s happening there. Visiting organic farms is an interesting way to connect with the food you are eating and the people who are growing it.
4. Read up and watch documentaries. We have access to more information than ever before. There is lots of inspiration and positive news out there. Permaculture is a solutions based design process. There’s lots of resources, ranging from short and sweet introductions, right through to complex designs of profitable sustainable businesses and much more. I recommend reading about the Permaculture principles. After that there are some useful design tools to help you design that can be applied to your garden and your life in general.
5. Develop a long-term vision. If we don’t know where we are going then we will never get there. Small steps and actions in the right direction add up. Gather photos and write down how you would like your life to look say in five, ten or fifteen years. A vision can be developed through inspirations, brainstorming and writing notes. This can be presented through a couple of pieces of paper, one with pictures the other with a few paragraphs of writing. This will give you longer-term clarity on how you would like your life to look and is an uplifting exercise.
6. Reduce support for destructive systems. I have covered this topic in another blog post which you can read here. There are also every day choices we can make. Where you choose to spend your money is where you can have a great impact, it's like voting. Not supporting unethical companies and instead choosing consistently ethical companies is some thing we can easily do. Some of the most unethical consistently companies are Nestlé, Monsanto and Coca Cola. On the other hand some of the most consistently ethical companies are Lush, Triodos and Suma. Do some research to find out what kind of companies you want to support.
My hope is these six things can help you feel more connected and empower you to live a more sustainable life. It’s our actions that change the world, it’s the small things that we do every day, small and slow solutions. Do what is realistic for you and start to feel the benefits.
Matt Prosser 31.08.2017