What is the fifth principle of permaculture?

Use and value renewable resources and services.

Conspicuous consumption is a status symbol in America. By buying things and then throwing them away, we show that we’re rich enough to be wasteful. We do this with fossil fuels, with disposable products, and even with our time.

Lawns play into this value system. Historically, their purpose was to show that the property owner was so wealthy, he could afford to spend time and money preventing his land from producing anything.

Now, this lifestyle has reached its limits. Our wastefulness has impoverished the Earth to the point where it’s no longer possible to live that way. People who continue to waste are seen as behaving selfishly in a world that no longer has enough for everyone.

Today, most people value living more lightly on the land. Some ways that we do this are by driving more efficient cars, reducing food waste, drinking from reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic ones, and taking shorter showers.

Some other easy ways to consume less are by changing what we do in our yards. For example:

  • Gas and electric lawnmowers depend on non-renewable fossil fuels. Unmotorized mowers rely on human labor, which is renewable and carbon-neutral. Better yet, we can just let the plants grow.
  • Commercial fertilizer is artificially produced through an environmentally-damaging process. Grass clippings, fallen leaves, and animal droppings contain the same nutrients as commercial fertilizer, and are endlessly renewable.
  • Yard work takes a lot of time. Gardening with native plants that are adapted to the area and can take care of all their own needs allows us to spend our time on other things.

Using free, abundant, renewable resources makes us look like smart people who care about our neighbors and our planet. Living less materialistically is now a respected choice that increases our status in the eyes of others.

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What is the fifth principle of permaculture?

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