A while ago I wrote on the 3 foundational Permaculture Ethics – care of earth, care of people, and fair share. On this foundation of ethics, 12 universal design principles provide further guidance to creatively design our environment and behavior. Although these principles have been used primarily in consideration of environmental issues, they are applicable to personal, social, economic, and political reorganization.
The Wiki summary of Permaculture includes the 12 principles from the book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, written by David Holmgren, one of the founders of Permaculture.
- Observe and interact – By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
- Catch and store energy – By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
- Obtain a yield – Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback – We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
- Use and value renewable resources and services – Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Produce no waste – By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
- Design from patterns to details – By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
- Integrate rather than segregate – By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
- Use small and slow solutions – Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
- Use and value diversity – Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
- Use edges and value the marginal – The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
- Creatively use and respond to change – We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
As you can see these Permaculture principles build on the ethics and provide a complete conceptual foundation for the design and redesign of our environment with sustainability in mind. Taken together and holistically, the ethics and principles of Permaculture can also provide the guiding considerations for restructuring our personal life choices, relationships, and economics.
It is only when we consider all aspects of life that we are adequately addressing sustainability and the spirit of Permaculture. Take a look at how Rob Hopkins, the founder of Transition Initiatives, applies these principles to business in his article on PermaculturePrinciples.com.