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5 Simple Ways to Start Living a Permaculture Lifestyle

Most people are familiar with permaculture as a style of gardening, but permaculture can extend far beyond the garden and grow into a lifestyle focused on sustainable solutions. So, how do we do this?

Here are 5 ways to live a permaculture-friendly lifestyle.

1. Grow Your Own Food 


Growing your own food is a big piece of the permaculture lifestyle. Unlike traditional gardeners, permaculture devotees build gardens predominantly comprised of perennials and self-seeding annuals.

Instead of designing labor-intensive gardens that need to be fertilized, weeded, and mulched each year, permaculture gardens are strategically companion planted so that they renew themselves each year. 

Over time, these gardens require less and less maintenance and become more stable as ecosystems. Learn more about how to start an edible food forest here

Your permaculture garden won’t just provide you with a bountiful harvest. It will reduce the distance that food has to travel to your plate, benefit local pollinators, and help cut down on grocery costs.

2. Reduce Waste 


A key idea in permaculture is creating a closed-loop system. Often, this means finding ways to incorporate your waste in more meaningful ways. 

For example, instead of tossing vegetable trimmings and old newspapers into the garbage, add them to your compost. Over time, they will break down into nutrient-rich compost. The benefits here are two-fold: You’ve reduced the waste leaving your home, and you’ve saved yourself from needing to buy compost elsewhere. 

This principle can be applied to many aspects of life. Next time, you go to throw something away, pause for a second and reimagine that object with a different purpose. You’d be surprised by how a little creativity, a little modification, and a little open-mindedness can make all the difference in how much waste leaves your home. 

3. Save Your Rainwater


What happens to your rainwater? Does it roll off your roof, down your gutters, and into a storm drain by the side of the road? Or are you putting that water to use? 

At my home, I have several rain barrels that collect the water off of my roof. This water is used to water my garden, and hauling water is better than any gym membership! 

If rain barrels don’t appeal to you, consider rainscaping.

The basic idea behind rainscaping is to divert the flow of water from your gutters to a rain garden where the moisture can be stored in the soil. This method can involve a bit of trenching upfront, but the effects can be really beautiful. You are essentially building a small river that feeds a garden of water-loving plants. 

Edible plants that thrive in rain gardens include: 

4. Reconsider Your Energy Use 


Traditional Romanian windmill

Life takes energy. Most of us like to be able to see at night, drive to work, and prepare hot meals. But the energy we use doesn’t have to come from sources that negatively impact our surroundings. 

If your climate is conducive to solar panels or wind turbines, they can be a fantastic way to generate clean energy. Having that said, they can be costly to establish. 

So, if you aren’t in the position to make the leap to a fully clean energy system, consider ways that you can conserve energy. 

Ways to reduce your energy needs include: 

  • Switching to LED light bulbs
  • Using a pressure cooker to prepare meals
  • Taking shorter showers
  • Air drying clothes instead of putting them in the dryer (or consider a washing machine that doesn’t require power!)
  • Installing low-flush toilets

5. Diversify Your Employment 


Perhaps one of the most difficult permaculture ideas for people to get behind is the idea of diversifying employment. The majority of people specialize in one type of work. 

You don’t have to drop your day job, but maybe you could start selling those toques you love to knit or sell your excess produce at a farmer’s market

A side hustle can be a great opportunity to share your art, focus on your passions, market your genius, or show off your craftsmanship. It can be a chance to learn new things, develop new skills, and collaborate with like-minded people. It can be tough. Definitely, but it can also be fulfilling in ways that only difficult things are. 

One thing 2020 has taught us is that employment can change in an instant. Diversifying your source of income makes you more resilient to economic fluctuations in the same way that a biodiverse garden is more resilient to seasonal storms.

Permaculture doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to establish food forests and find sustainable solutions. But the more we take small steps towards sustainability, the closer we are to achieving the real meaning of permaculture: a permanent culture.

To help you on your way, here are my 3 favorite permaculture books:

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  • Jack of all trades, master of some. Wild garden grower. Loves creating stuff. From food forests and survival gardens to soap and yoghurt. A girl on a farm with two kids and one husband (yep, just one - although another one would be handy). Weirdly enjoys fixing fences and digging holes. Qualified permaculture teacher and garden go-to.