It is predicted that we are currently consuming 50% more resources than our earth can sustain (Watt, 2015). Yet, there are still many around the world deprived of their basic necessities, such as food and clean water. With such figures predicted to only worsen with the onset of the impacts of climate change, it is clear that sustainable systems are crucial to provide equitable solutions, and preserve our planet’s vital resources.
Permaculture has been proposed as a solution to this issue, through working in harmony with nature rather than in contrast to it (Watt, 2015). Permaculture is a ‘polyculture’, that ensures the land produces an abundance of food and fuel for people within their local communities through the use of provides a wide and diverse number of crops and agricultural systems. Permaculture systems are self-sufficient, founded upon three main principles; ‘care for the earth, care for the people and return of surplus’ (Watt, 2015). With this, everyone is provided for, and the environment is encouraged it to thrive.
Permaculture aims to improve biodiversity, reduce environmental impacts, and establish equitable societies for all (Permaculture Association, 2019). For instance, it can ensure access to clean water for those in hot climates and less developed parts of the world or be used to develop affordable and sustainable transport systems, that are accessible to everyone in urban and rural locations (Knowledge Base, 2019). These systems are created so that they work in harmony with nature, by ensuring that physical structures imitate natural conditions.
Clever designs mean this practice can be carried out pretty much anywhere: from dense urban areas to the extremes of deserts and snowy mountains, producing food and other resources for local residents. One reason why permaculture is a healthy alternative to industrial agriculture is that it does not require food and products to be shipped around the globe, which places a burden on the natural environment.
Permaculture could also help to reduce the amount of waste produced in the Western world, fuelled by unnecessary overconsumption (The Conversation, 2017). Rather than using man-made instruments, such as dams and chemicals, permaculture attempts to harness natural networks that will work for us whilst ensuring minimal environmental damage is caused. Only resources necessary to humans, to lead full and healthy lives, are exhausted.
As previously stated, permaculture could allow us to share the earth’s resources in a tenable manner, offering a sustainable route for our future. A part of this sustainability would be to find alternatives to ‘quick fix solutions’ (SpiralSeed, 2019). Instead of making decisions based on an instant resolution, questioning and careful observation will be employed to look at all the characteristics of an environment, be it a physical landscape or in the social sphere. For example, is it necessary to install more CCTV in an area to tackle the issue of rising levels of crime, or would it be more sensible to consider wider social factors, such as inequality and poverty, that may be causing these patterns? (SpiralSeed, 2019). To do this, we must embrace a change of perspective. For example, a gardener regarding weeds as a nuisance could instead view them as beneficial to wildlife, increasing biodiversity, or useful for compost (SpiralSeed, 2019).
Through embracing the principles of kindness, interconnectedness and small consumption sacrifices, we can have a large and positive impact on our environment that will allow the planet to thrive. Everyone can be involved in permaculture, either in their local community or within their own families and gardens, thus making it perfect for long term sustainability.
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