What is sustainable, regenerative, and permaculture?
We use terms and words such as sustainable, sustainability, regenerative, and permaculture, but what do they mean, and why do they matter?
At the core, sustainable means ability to be maintained at the current level. It is avoiding the depletion of natural resources such as soil, habitat, water, pollinators, ecology, and maintaining a natural balance.
It also means on a deeper level working to fulfill the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of the future generations. For business, sustainable businesses are those that measure the impact of their business on the environment and society, and working to make a positive impact and/or reduce our footprint to create a net zero or neutral impact. Sustainability in business can include:
Using organic and biodegradable resources and materials in production and products
Reducing waste and optimizing supply chains to reduce greenhouse emissions
Using renewable energy sources
Reducing use of plastics, chemicals, and byproducts that do not break down over time
Using supplies and materials that are produced in an ethical and sustainable way, so as not to deplete the natural resources
In aromatherapy and herbalism, sustainability also includes:
Not using endangered plant materials unless we know they were ethically and sustainably grown/harvested
Using only what you need, and not wasting plant material
Using local supply chains first, to reduce the distance/packaging/fossil fuel used to get far away plant materials to you
Sourcing supplies and plant material from companies that have sustainability plans and are transparent about their processes
When looking at being a sustainable home herbalist or a sustainable herbal/aromatherapy practitioner or business owner, we are evaluating how we can reduce our impact on the environment, utilize plants and companies that are not depleting delicate ecosystems through their practices, sourcing supplies that are biodegradable, reducing energy usage and waste, creating local chains or growing our own, and more!
The difference between sustainable and regenerative is that sustainable works to maintain the status quo by working to maintain the environment where it is for the future, whereas regenerative takes it one step further and says we can implement practices that make the work BETTER for future generations and IMPROVE soil, water, ecosystems, and improve the system to be more productive, to improve the soil, water, ecosystems, and have no impact so that it is improved for future generations.
In business, regenerative practices might include all of the sustainable bullets above but also include processes and plans to increase the health and wellness of the community, employees, and the planet.
Regenerative businesses might have better employee processes and plans, ensure fair working conditions and positive employee wages and health plans, work to look at the impact of capitalism on social systems and have programs that give back to their community to support equity, inclusion, green communities, or the education of underserved or marginalized people.
Regenerative practitioners may look at ways to improve soil, reduce water usage, only purchase supplies from those that have ethical employee practices and anti-oppressive cooperatives, provide fair trade or wages to farmers /workers, that create local programs or systems of community support or mutual aid. That work to give back to community in some way to support ongoing education, health and wellness, improved ecosystems and prevent the loss of habitat, important plant species, and make their products and practice a positive force for not only themselves, but their communities.
In gardening and growing, regenerative practices to restore the health of our soil, environment, ecosystem, water, and other key elements, and improve the land and our impact on it.
What is permaculture?
Permaculture is both sustainable and regenerative practices, a growing system, a social ideal of collaborative and cooperative communities, and a view of economic, social, and cultural systems that impact our role and place in this ecosystem, environment, and planet. The three tenets of Permaculture are People Care, Earth Care, Fair Share.
Permaculture in practice in growing/gardening, includes observation and thoughtful consideration to create systems within their functional roles that enhance the whole. This overall is a holistic, living in harmony with the world around us including our gardens, wildlife and nature, and community. It is working with, rather than against, nature. It is a living design system that incorporates plants, animals, people, environment, and communities. Permaculture generally focuses on the growing environment and social permaculture generally focuses on our role in society and community and relationships, and also often includes forms of capital and how they are used in our community systems.
Why does it matter?
All of our practices and actions have an impact somewhere - on our family, our community, on the planet, on our ecosystem. In a time of climate change, loss of habitat, species going extinct, sacred plants being endangered or at-risk, over harvesting and unethical harvesting of those plants, most of the things we use being shipped thousands if not tens of thousands of miles to us, the overuse of water in water scarce communities, the use of pesticides, the loss of biodiversity, the impact of all of this on our pollinators, and the amount of plastics and waste going into landfills - our footprint as individuals, families, and businesses is huge. We can't all be perfect and live a monastic life in a cave, but we can all take steps to reduce our impact, create systems that improve our own communities, land, family, and ecosystems, reduce our footprint by creating local community resources where we can, and mindfully using supplies and tools in a way that helps us improve our impact and reduce our footprint, and be more sustainable. We can even take steps to be regenerative by improving processes and impacts to make the world better than we found it. We can do this through steps and mindful evaluation of where we are, what we have, what we use, what we need, and how we can reflect and change our habits in a way that makes our choices impactful, and improves our own home, land and communities. Let's do this!
Bring it all together.
There is a cascade effect in our work to be more mindful of our impact and create more sustainable and regenerative practices for ourselves or our practices/business. By just growing more of our own herbs, we can impact many things at once and have many benefits. When you grow your own herbs, you:
Have high quality freshly picked herbs that are vibrant and aromatic, harvested exactly when ready
Are more self-sufficient and prepared if there are any supply chain breakdowns (2020, anyone?)
Have a deeper connection and understanding of the plants by working with them seed to use
Know exactly how your herbs were grown and know there is no contamination or filler
Reduce waste by growing what you need and sharing your extra
Save your own seeds so you have more plants again next year
Save money by growing what you need and saving seeds
Reduce waste by not having items shipped in boxes/plastic, using your own reusable containers
Reduce work by growing perennials that come back year after year
Reduce water use by companion planting, careful site selection, and mulching
Reduce carbon footprint by having herbs from your own yard/garden and not shipped thousands of miles
All of that is by one single action of growing some of your own herbs. Imagine that on a grand scale if all of us grew even a few pots on our deck, and the impact we might have. When we add actions, we add impact, and we all can take steps to be the change we want to see - in our community, our environment, and the planet!
All material provided on this website is provided for informational or educational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician.