New Zealand – Permaculture and the Environment – by Delaney Babich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
One of the most intriguing lessons I learned while studying abroad was the idea of permaculture, and its impressive success rate on the environment and the lives of the people who practice it. I wanted to share a couple of my favorite aspects, along with examples to further explain the ideas. Here are three of my favorites!
Use and Value Renewable Resources & Services
“Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.” This is a photo of the papercrete used at Solscape. At this point in the tour, our guide was talking us through all of the sustainable practices they had and the principles of permaculture that they use. Papercrete is an innovative and splendid way to use the materials you have around you. By taking paper and re-pulping it and then mixing it with clay or cement, you come up with a sturdy, recycled, insulating and cheap building block for any new project. It costs less than regular building materials, teaches you to become a maker of things, lets you create your own design for any building and helps the environment because it doesn’t give off any toxins or emissions in the process of making it. This type of material was a theme throughout the trip, as we met many new age thinkers who were adamant about living sustain-ably. In a book called “The Good Life Lab” talks about living a de-commodified life, the author and her partner used the papercrete technique to build their house, shed and outdoor patio. She says it is so fulfilling to look at a structure and know you made it with your own two hands. That’s how I felt while looking at the two domes that Solscape had built. I tried to put myself in their shoes, and I was proud of what they had accomplished. Making a home out of the earth connects you back to where you come from, helps you appreciate your surroundings and gives you a sense of pride knowing that you are living in a home made from your own two hands.
Produce No Waste
“By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.” This is the most intriguing and important principle of permaculture to me. The world is coming to a point where we are producing more than we have room to dispose of. This is true especially true in the US. We are home to 4% of the population, but contribute 30% of the worlds waste. What kind of numbers logic is that? Our group visited a non-profit called Extreme waste, a recycle and upcycle facility in Raglan. They are committed to the idea that nothing should go to waste, and that every item we believe is useless, really is not. They employ locals and accept volunteers, and open their doors to anyone who wants to learn more about upcycling. . The only problem is that many people have a stigma about used items. I don’t understand why, since all of the items I bought from Extreme Waste were in great shape and put a smile on my face. I believe we need to shift from being buyers of things, to makers of things. If we refurbish a chair or put two scraps of fabric together to make a shirt, we are happier with the result because of the hard work done, and by spending little to no money! I have so much respect for the owners Rick and Liz, because they saw a problem and they fixed it. They seem like gurus of the permaculture world, because their entire livelihood is based on the permaculture principles. All things have multiple purposes, we just need to get creative and dig into our minds to find out the endless possibilities for every object!
Creatively Use and Respond to Change
“We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.” Our visit to the Maungatautari Ecological Reserve is the perfect example for this permaculture principle. The environmentalists in New Zealand saw what negative change the introduced mammals brought to the native forests and put their minds together to come up with an extremely creative fence to regenerate the land and birds. I was impressed with the design; I have not seen anything like that before! They thought of every way a pest could get in and then blocked it. Having vision is not seeing things how they are, but how they will be in the future. The director Tom and his colleagues knew that if they didn’t do something soon, the land and rare birds would be gone forever. I admire their persistence and admiration for the land and their dedication to its preservation. This idea also ties back to what Keith, our host on the Marae, said about looking out for our future generations. The native forest is special and one of a kind in this world, and everyone should have a chance to visit. With practices like this, it is possible!
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