What is permaculture?
Many people have never heard of Permaculture, and of those that have many are unsure what it really is, thinking it is organic gardening and agriculture. It can be that but it is also so much more. Permaculture is a way of doing something that is resilient over time without negatively affecting the environment. The ethics and principles can be in relation to any activity across industries from banking or fashion to community building and product design.
Why is permaculture interesting? In the last few years there has been a push towards social impact, sustainability and innovation. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have provided an aim that people and organisations all around the world are striving towards. In addition the Circular Economy is steadily growing interest, offering an alternative economy for business to be regenerative and work with nature rather than against it. Biomimicry is also often mentioned as a tool for innovation whilst respecting nature. More recently the Doughnut Economy has been attracting a lot of interest in a bid to offer a regenerative and distributive economy. Looking at the SDGs, the Circular Economy, Biomimicry and the Doughnut Economy they all are working towards the same vision. To create a thriving society and healthy planet both locally and globally.
So where does Permaculture come in? Permaculture principles and ethics are a tool to bring all of these together. Permaculture ethics are the backbone of the journey towards a thriving, regenerative and distributive society and planet through the focus on; earth care, people care and fair shares, whilst Permaculture principles are the tools to make it happen.
- Observe and Interact
- Catch and Store Energy
- Obtain a Yield
- Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback
- Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
- Produce No Waste
- Design from Patterns to Details
- Integrate Rather than Segregate
- Use Small and Slow Solutions
- Use and Value Diversity
- Use the Edges and Value the Margin
- Creatively Use and Respond to Change
Why is it relevant for business?
The principle ‘Obtain a Yield’ aims for businesses to be regenerative by design and focus on the thriving of people and planet rather than simply surviving. In order to work towards the SDGs with the aim of creating a thriving society and planet both locally and globally we need to build up businesses to be regenerative, resilient and maximise social impact.
The permaculture principles offer a tool for new perspective thinking and innovation. The principles ‘Use the Edges and Value the Margin’ encourages businesses to take advantage of niche opportunities to create value and innovation whilst ‘Creatively Use and Respond to Change’ focuses on how businesses should be designed to be adaptable and innovative in response to change as well as create the most impact right now.
Resilience in times of uncertainty
Ensuring businesses are resilient is more important now than ever during the current crisis. Businesses that have always been successful have suddenly found themselves without revenue and little hope of bouncing back. The principle ‘Use Small and Slow Solutions’ encourages businesses to make steps rather than a constant increase towards growth in order to ensure each step is stable and resilient before moving forward.
‘Use and Value Diversity’ and ‘Catch and Store Energy’ encourage businesses to consider multiple revenue streams and value creation for the company, be it monetary or creating additional business opportunities, in order to reduce reliance on a single revenue stream.
Sustainable Development Goals
The aim of Permaculture is to encourage people care, earth care and fair shares (distribution), all of which are closely aligned with the Circular Economy, Biomimrcy and the Doughnut Economy. A business that is completely aligned with the permaculture principles and ethics is not only regenerative, innovative and resilient but it also creates positive social and environmental impact by design.
The principles ‘Design from Pattern to Details’, further support the aim of a thriving society and environment both locally and globally by bringing in whole systems thinking within businesses, considering the whole industry in relation to the inputs and outputs of the business.
Using Permaculture as a toolkit allows for businesses to:
- Become innovative, resilient against uncertainty and regenerative by design.
- Explore new business opportunities and additional value.
- Align with the Sustainable Development Goals.