Permaculture Ethics

The three implicit Permaculture ethics are Earth Care; People Care; and Future Care (sometimes expressed as Fair Share).

What are Ethics?

“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life. “ 
– Albert Schweitzer

“Ethics is what you do in the dark when no one’s watching.” 
– Rushworth Kidder (2003), the founder of the Institute of Global Ethics

“A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.” 
– Albert Schweitzer

Permaculture Ethics Image
Permaculture Ethics

As a basic definition, Permaculture is a holistic design system for creating sustainable human settlements and food production systems. It is a movement concerned with sustainable, environmentally sound land use and the building of stable communities, through the harmonious interrelationship of humans, plants, animals and the Earth.
By this very definition, this system necessitates that our conduct is focussed on the good of the planet, Nature and the people. It cannot work otherwise.

The following definitions are those that appear on the Permaculture Association web-site where there is a vast repository of knowledge on Permaculture.

Earth Care

Perma What talk
Earth Care

Provision for all life systems to continue.

Permaculture works with natural systems, rather than in competition with them. It uses methods that have minimal negative impact on the Earth’s natural environment. In everyday life, this may involve buying local produce, eating in season, and cycling rather than driving.

It’s about choices we make, and how we manage the land. It’s about opposing the destruction of wild habitats, and the poisoning of soil, water and atmosphere, and it’s about designing and creating healthy systems that meet our needs without damaging the planet.

People Care

People Care
People Care

Provision for people to access those resources necessary to their existence.

As a part of this planet, you matter! This is about ensuring the wellbeing of both individuals and communities. As individuals, we need to look after ourselves and each other so that as a community we can develop environmentally friendly lifestyles.

In the poorest parts of the world, this is still about helping people to access enough food and clean water, within a safe society. In the rich world, it means redesigning our unsustainable systems and replacing them with sustainable ones. This could mean working together to provide efficient, accessible public transport, or to provide after-school clubs for kids. When people come together, friendships are formed and sustainability becomes possible.

Future Care

Future Care

By governing our own needs, living within limits and consciously co-creating, we can create a sustainable world where the needs of all things are met, not only today but in the future as well.

Living within limits is not about limiting people’s free movement, tight border controls and a one child policy. It is about conscious efforts to achieve a stable human inhabitation of the Earth, respecting the genuine needs of other beings. Key social strategies include: helping people to meet their basic needs of clean water, nutrition, shelter, warmth, in addition to essential healthcare and education, including equal rights for all.

The third ethic recognises that:
a) The Earth’s resources are limited, and
b) These resources need to be shared by many beings.

Permaculture seeks to create and distribute life-giving resources fairly amongst people, animals and plants alike, not forgetting future generations who depend upon our conscious stewardship of the natural systems of the earth, which provide food, water and shelter.

Permaculture meets the goals of these ethics by working with the principles that nature herself uses; the very principles that make nature self-sufficient and resiliant.
Check out our Permaculture Principles page.

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