Design Your life With Permaculture 6: Produce no waste

Josh Davis
Wednesday, 1st February 2017

Nature produces no waste but we waste resources, food, nutrients, even time. Josh Davis suggests how we can make our lives a closed loop system!

Mother Nature does not produce waste. So why do we create so much? Before our ability to make non-biodegradable products we would have fitted into Nature's closed loop system too. We need to relearn how to replicate the natural world as much as possible and rejoin the closed loop system whereby one man’s waste really is another’s treasure. By reducing our waste we reduce the resources used to make new items.

If we can recycle our belongings, use compostable materials for packaging, buy used instead of new, we are benefitting our own ecosystem rather than destroying it, the more our ecosystem thrives, the more we thrive. Is it any wonder we are seeing more illness, more pollution, when we are injecting toxic materials into a natural world that only knows how to recycle and close the loop? The natural world is simply doing what it has for million of years, processing our waste into something useable. If we are able to create a clean and closed loop whereby we produce no waste we are creating a healthy ecosystem in which we can all thrive.

There are so many ways we can reduce our waste. The key part of this is not to see it as a sacrifice or a chore but more as a way of going back to how we used to live. Living a simpler life in this way can dramatically improve our overall wellbeing and happiness.

  • Reduce your landfill waste and keep track of how often your trash is emptied. When you observe that you empty your trash can once a month, you can then attempt to aim for once every two months and build from there.
  • Avoid plastic as much as possible. You can dramatically reduce your landfill and recycling waste by not buying things that come in plastic. It can be hard at first but once your mindset switches it gets much easier.
  • Compost food scraps and add to your garden bed. We throw out so much food each year that has a lot of nutrients left in it. If we create a system whereby we compost our food we can add these nutrients to our garden and help create more food. This again ties back to other principles by helping us store finances, allows us to use a renewable resource, and obtains a yield from our garden. 3 principles in 1!
  • Look at ways to reduce your water consumption.  Can you use water from the sink to water plants? Can you create a grey water management system. There are so many easy ways to conserve such a valuable resource.
  • Wasted time. Creating waste can come in many forms. If we carefully observe our use of time we can ensure we aren’t wasting our most precious resource.

These aren’t things that will be instantly implemented. Don’t worry if this seem overwhelming at first, start small and build from there.

Previous: Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

Next: Design from patterns to detail

Josh Davis is an outdoor educator and facilitator exploring ways we can learn from the natural world. He offers one on one coaching and consulting to help design your life from permaculture. 

You can find out more at

For more ideas about designing your life with permaculture

People and Permaculture and 7 Ways to Think Differently by Looby Macnamara

Zen in the Art of Permaculture Design by Stephan Geyer

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