In Part 2 of our Permaculture Lifestyle Series, we're going to take a look at the role that Ethics plays in guiding our decision making and design. Most people have some concept of ethics and (hopefully) think of themselves as ethical human beings. But what does that really mean? How often do we really stop and think of what the word “ethics” means to us? Linda Elder defined ethics as “a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures”. Google defines ethics as “moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity.”
Before we dive into the practical applications of the Permaculture Design Principles and how they can apply to our lifestyles, let’s take a look at the Ethics from which they’re all based: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.
We’ve seen recently, in the wake of the corona pandemic, what it can look like when petroleum-based travel & industry take a pause. In a very short time, revelatory images surfaced, showing the earth’s atmosphere and waterways healing themselves when given a chance. It’s not surprising. Like us, the planet has its own detox and immunity systems.
Thankfully, over 4500 million years of evolution, our planet has developed the capacity to regulate a state of balance amidst all manner of shifting influences. For it to do that in a way that humans can survive through, however, we absolutely must stop stripping it of its limited resources and polluting it with our mismanaged waste. Pollution comes in many forms, but it’s a factor that modern-day innovators have learned to calculate and mitigate.
We are actually living in an impressively innovative day and age. Many humans have devised systems and technologies for enjoying our modern-day comforts with less of a negative impact on the environment. Some of these practices are even regenerative! Supporting lifestyle choices and businesses that employ renewable-energy technologies and organically grown food is a powerful start. The exciting thing is how many companies have been exploring ways to make “going green” initiatives a path toward greater profits! This is the practice of permaculture.
How can we change our systems and habits to be more beneficial for us, while staying mindful and supportive of a healthier planet for all of humanity, its descendants, and the plants and animals of our global community?
The answer can be as intimidating as it is empowering. It all starts with me. It all starts with you! The responsibility lies within each one of us. The great news is that we already have many established precedents that are worth paying some attention to. The Permaculture Principles that I'll be sharing with you will always be guiding you toward an Earth Care focus. This Ethic is a great reference point when we consider voting with our buying power, as well.
When we support industries and lifestyle habits that discriminate, marginalize, impoverish, enslave, abuse, or otherwise cause help for our fellow humans, we all lose. It’s long overdue for us to ask ourselves whether we are willing to continue giving our money to corporations that are intentionally contributing to these crimes against humanity, or are we willing to take a stand and start supporting business owners who are taking the chance to sacrifice short-term profits for a business model that pays fair wages, builds diversified teams, and practice social outreach to lift up their community. It’s up to each one of us to decide what kind of impact that we want to initiate or support, but the days of remaining blind to the implications of our choices must fall behind us. We are in the information age. There are no more excuses for playing aloof!
My friends, supporting fair-trade and cooperatively-designed businesses that are making an effort to provide healthy environments for their employees & their families is a must if we want to claim ourselves to be good people. Buying food and products produced using toxic chemicals and industrial waste is a direct contribution to our fellow humans’ ill living standards and the uncertain future that we’re currently leaving as our collective legacy.
Hopefully, it goes without saying that each of these ethics are applicable in all of our lifestyle choices, not just those associated with commerce. The only way toward a more sustainable, compassionate, and connected world is for us each to take personal responsibility for how our actions affect others.
The overwhelming amount of waste produced by our first-world nations is one of the most embarrassing misuses of the gifts that we’ve been granted as Earthlings. We have more than enough resources on this planet to sustain us all, healthfully. That can come from an abundance of food from our gardens or an abundance of time, money, attention, or even just hugs. This Ethic calls us to share that abundance and invest it, as you see fit, into the first two ethics.
This Ethic is also referred to as “Future Care” and calls us to recognize the limits inherent in life and on our planet and to plan for replenishment of what is used. If you think about it, only about 25% of the earth’s surface is inhabitable by humans. An eye-opening quote from National Geographic states that “While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based.” Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snow- fields.” Misuse and unequal distribution of land and water is not a sustainable practice, by any measure. It is time for us to all start thinking like global citizens.
Application of the Permaculture Design Principles are our key to unlocking balance in how we relate to the world around us!
This is Part 2 of a 15 part series, pulled from the Permaculture Lifestyles Explained eBook, which contains over 100 tips for how someone might apply the permaculture principles to their life for greater efficiency, impact, and happiness. If you'd like to get the whole book to download and read offline, drop your email below and I'll be happy to send you a link.
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