Aidan Tyksinski, Staff
Combating climate change is something that the Biden administration has put to the forefront. President Biden talked about adding aspects of the proposed Green New Deal into his agenda and has appointed John Kerry to head the newly formed United States Presidential Envoy for Climate. These measures are a good start, but it is not enough; solar panels and wind turbines have long been hailed as the leaders of renewable energy, but what if instead of trying to use nature to stop climate change, we work with nature?
This is where permaculture comes in. Permaculture is the idea of building self-sufficient communities which only use the resources given by nature. The idea of it might seem very outdated for modern society, however, when you break down permaculture, you start to realize how a simple idea can result in massive change.
One of the most important ideas of permaculture is keeping everything in a closed loop system; permaculture communities grow their own food, get their fertilizer from waste produced by the livestock they own and feed said livestock with feed grown by the community. You don’t have to rely on stores or chains to provide food for the community or livestock; you are your own store.
The second most important idea of permaculture is rain conservation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans lose about 50% of their outdoor water due to poor irrigation systems. Faulty irrigation results in the annual loss of 25,000 gallons of water yearly. Permaculture attempts to fix this problem by going back to our roots. One idea is building canals on swampy land and raising the land around it. This idea was inspired by the Aztecs, who famously had some of the best irrigation systems in pre-colonial North America. This water can then be used to grow crops and farm fish, without causing much destruction to the land.
Water collected in rain barrels can be used to water plants; HGTV offers a tutorial on how to build a system for your own home.
The final big idea of permaculture is working with nature, not against it. This can be done in several ways. One way is using animals to get rid of invasive insects instead of pesticides. It is becoming clear that chemicals sprayed on food are not only harmful for the people who eat the food, but also harmful for the person spraying the chemicals. Permaculture uses alternative sources of pest control, such as using chickens to eat the bugs off the food.
Working with nature also comes into play when building structures. Instead of just having a rain barrel, people in a permaculture society will use the rain barrel to store water and grow aquatic food or build a fence that will keep animals in and catch wind at the same time.
Obviously, not everyone will want to move to a permaculture society. However, that doesn’t mean we all can’t use the ideas of permaculture to make our own homes a little greener. If it is possible, I highly recommend growing some of your own food. Find different ways to store rainwater and come up with ideas to reuse old waste products. It might seem small, but every big change started with small ideas.