Permaculture Explained (Vol III Issue 6): Produce no waste

"Waste as an unused resource"

by Jo Barker

With this issue’s principle Produce no Waste, it brings to mind one of my favourite Mollison principles 'waste (pollution) = unused resource'. This can be turned around to make an unused resource = waste (pollution).

Apply this to time, unemployment, food, energy, water… any resource and it is clear to see that there really is no such thing as waste as we define it.

What exists is an opportunity to work out how to utilise and use these resources into our systems. Then this will reduce a need for energy somewhere in the system and create a yield of some sort. This is exactly the sort of thinking that really excites me about permaculture. 

An obvious example is food waste. Instead of polluting a landfill site for many years, this waste can be recycled into compost and can contribute to the fertility of our land, thus making a valuable resource.

There are lots of ways to transform this food waste; there are many good schemes around and more people than ever are composting. Or what’s even better is reduce it in the first place.

I even eat my 'weeds'! The most popular vegetable here are nettles and they grow freely. I had a salad two days ago, largely consisting of weeds - rocket, lettuce, chives, thyme, hedge garlic, ox-eye daisy, rape flower, spinach, parley, pansy, perennial cabbage.

If we just consider this one principle with all of the things we consider 'waste', we could change the world!