Ethic 1 is very simple. Care for the Earth. The Earth is our home, with finite resources and a still-growing population. This ethic states something that is very obvious, that we should take care of where we live, but which is so often overlooked or neglected. Ethic 1 is like many things that sound simple: it is not always easy.
Taking care of our home would seem like a no-brainer. At least it did to me. I don’t like pollution, whether that be in the atmosphere, the water, the soil. The noise of heavy trucks and the smoke they belch out still in our part of Asia is one of the most apparent (and frequent) examples that illustrate our approach to ‘taking care of the earth’. On the whole, we don’t seem to have done a very good job as stewards of the land, sea or air. Looking at my own contribution to caring for our home, I hadn’t exactly emerged covered in glory either.
‘Care for the Earth’ seeks to redress the imbalance of, among other things, our unsustainable consumption, by placing this Ethic at the core of Permaculture Design methodology. Ethic 1 is part of a set of Principles and Ethics that guide every decision that could be made when designing.
When I discovered Permaculture, I wasn’t entirely ignorant of the levels of pollution and consumption that we as a species are responsible for. Still, it was actually quite jarring to have this Ethic pushed front and centre. Right up there at the front. The fact that I found it so unusual to have something like this at the core of designing (or even thinking) is in itself illuminating for me personally. Design had, up until that point for me, always been about efficiency, or to reach a set goal. Parameters, requirements, desired outcomes. Return on investment! ‘Care for the Earth’ at the core of design changed the way I thought about design…quite abruptly.
Mindsets, habits, can take time to change. There will be disagreements about how to care for the Earth as long as people have air in their lungs to argue. But putting this Ethic front-and-centre when considering any action or design, gives us all something which stands up to debate, wherever we may be as individuals on the philosophical spectrum.
I have a world of thoughts about Permaculture, Natural Building and all the topics I have learned about that frequently swirl around inside my head, and no doubt my opinions will morph as my knowledge of Permaculture expands over the years. As things stand though, with my present experience, I often think of the Permaculture Ethics and Principles as a framework that can be used to effect positive change at least in my little patch and for those around me. I think that’s going in the right direction.
Next: Permaculture Ethic 2: Care For People
Links & Resources: Permaculture Thailand