Permaculture is a design philosophy that can be used to create sustainable systems in any environment. It has been gaining popularity in South Africa in recent years as people become more aware of the need to live more sustainably. There are 12 basic core principles of permaculture, and if we adhere to these principles we can make big changes in the way we live our lives.
The current electricity issue in South Africa is a result of years of underinvestment in maintenance and new generation capacity, as well as a severe drought in 2015 and 2016 that hit hydropower production. The country has been forced to implement rolling blackouts, known locally as “loadshedding,” which has caused widespread economic disruption.
The South African Government has announced plans to invest billions of dollars into new power plants and transmission lines, but the process will take years to complete. In the meantime, businesses and households are struggling to cope with the consequences of the power crisis.
It is estimated that by 2030, South Africa will need an additional 41 000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity – more than the total energy output of the country today. The current South African electricity grid is already under strain, with regular load shedding becoming a way of life for many people. This is not sustainable in the long term, and it is clear that South Africa needs to find a more sustainable way to meet its energy needs.
One option is to move towards off-grid living. This means using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power to generate electricity, rather than relying on the fragile and often dysfunctional national grid. Off-grid living has many benefits – it is more environmentally friendly, it is more efficient and it can be much cheaper in the long run. In addition, it offers people independence from the often unreliable national electricity supply.
Permaculture is an approach to land management that mimics the patterns and relationships found in natural ecosystems. It is based on the principles of ecological design and aims to create systems that are sustainable and resilient. Permaculture has many applications, but it is particularly well-suited to off-grid living. When you live off the grid, you need to be self-sufficient in terms of food, water, and energy.
Permaculture can help you achieve this by teaching you how to design systems that use resources efficiently and waste nothing.
For example, you can use permaculture principles to create a water catchment system that captures rainwater for your home. You can also use permaculture to design an edible landscape, using plants that provide food, medicine, and other useful products. In short, permaculture is a valuable tool for anyone interested in living a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.
The 12 Core Principles of Permaculture:
1. Observe and Interact
You should take the time to observe your natural environment and learn about the patterns and processes that occur within it. Once you have a good understanding of how your environment works, you can start to interact with it in a way that is beneficial for both you and the environment.
2. Catch and Store Energy
Using techniques such as solar energy, wind power, and water harvesting to capture renewable energy and store it for future use. By doing this, you can reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and help to protect the environment.
3. Obtain a Yield
You should strive to produce food, fuel, or other resources that are of value to you. To do this, you need to design your system in a way that maximizes production while minimizing inputs.
4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
You should strive to maintain a balance within your system and be willing to listen to feedback from both the environment and other people. By doing this, you can ensure that your system is sustainable in the long term.
5. Use and Value Renewable Resources
Using resources such as sunlight, water, wind, and biomass in a way that does not deplete them. Additionally, it means valuing these resources for their inherent worth rather than their monetary value.
6. Produce No Waste
Designing your system in a way that eliminates wastefulness at every level. By doing this, you can minimize your impact on the environment and maximize the efficiency of your system.
7. Design From Patterns To Details
Imitating the patterns and processes that occur in nature to create a more efficient and sustainable system. By doing this, you can create a system that is more resilient to change and better able to meet your needs over time.
8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate
Creating systems where different elements work together for the benefit of the whole. By doing this, you can create a more efficient system that uses less energy and resources.
9. Use Small And Slow Solutions
Using smaller, more manageable systems rather than large, centralized ones. Additionally, it means implementing changes slowly so that they are more likely to be successful.
10. Use And Value Diversity
Incorporating a wide variety of plant, animal, and microbial species into your system. By doing this, you can create a more diverse, resilient, and productive system.
11. Use Edges And Value The Marginal
Utilizing areas where different ecosystems meet, such as forest edges, waterways, or hedgerows. These areas are often more productive than more traditional agricultural land, as they provide greater biodiversity and habitat for wildlife.
12. Creatively Use And Respond To Change
By being open to new ideas and ways of doing things, as well as being prepared for change itself. Additionally, it means being proactive in making changes when necessary so that your system remains adaptable over time.
Sustainable living is often touted as a way to reduce one’s carbon footprint and help mitigate global climate change.
How exactly does sustainable living affect the climate?
There are a few ways in which sustainable living can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down climate change.
- Sustainable living practices often emphasize energy efficiency. This means using less energy overall, which can lead to lower emissions from power plants and other sources of electricity.
- Sustainable living often involves using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels. Solar, wind, and hydropower generate electricity with zero emissions, so switching to renewables can help reduce climate-changing pollution.
- Sustainable living often includes steps to reduce waste production. Recycling and composting help cut down on the amount of trash that goes into landfills, where it decomposes and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
So sustainable living does make a difference when it comes to climate change. By reducing energy use, emissions from power plants, and methane production from landfills, sustainable living can help us slow down the effects of global warming and create a healthier planet for generations to come.
South Africa has the potential to become a world leader in off-grid living, but this will require a major shift in thinking – both from the South African Government and from individuals. If we are to make the transition to a sustainable future, off-grid living must become a mainstream option.
This will require a change in our laws and regulations, as well as a change in our attitudes and perceptions. But it is possible, and permaculture can show us the way.
Featured Image By: Luca Bravo | September 5, 2016