Designing Your Life with Permaculture 2: Catch and Store Energy

Josh Davis
Wednesday, 4th January 2017

Part 2 of our series about using permaculture design exploring the principle of 'Catch and Store Energy' to create the life you want to lead so you can be the change you want to see in the world.

Everything in the natural world is an expert at storing energy… except us.

Animals are constantly conserving energy and ensuring they are fit and healthy for when they need to use that energy. While we have developed some amazing technologies that help save and reduce energy, we have, at the same time, created technologies that waste enormous amount too. Having a system whereby we are more efficient and less wasteful can create endless benefits to our health, wealth and therefore our quality of lives. The more we are able to reuse and sustain energy the healthier our ecosystem will be and the healthier we will be.

We can learn a lot about energy from the natural world and bring it into many aspects of our lives.

  • Health - If we have health, we have wealth. This is the most important area of our lives that we should focus on. So many of us put our health to one side due to self-imposed time constraints. “I don’t have time to exercise”, “I don’t have time to eat a proper meal” these are excuses we have all used. The better our health the more we are able to do and the more benefit we are to those around us and to the larger system.
  • Fitness - Similar to the health but building upon this even further. If we are able to stay fit and strong then we have an abundance of natural, renewable energy at our fingertips. If you can run 10 miles in one go then you have the ability to travel for free, if you can lift a heavy weight then you have free labour. We should train and maintain our bodies to be able to use them in a number of ways not just for aesthetics. Movement is a key part to every animal's life. Humans have evolved to be the planet's greatest movers, we can run, jump, climb, swim, and we are incredibly flexible. The majority of us do not utilise this ability and it is a wasted resource and energy.
  • Finance - While money isn’t necessarily a form of energy it is a way to transfer and trade resources and has become a part of our society we unfortunately cannot ignore. If we look at money as a nutrient we start to treat it slightly differently. A forest or human would not survive long with a nutrient deficiency, yet we happily live for years in debt. How can we create a more sustainable approach to our finances to be prepared for harder times? This doesn’t mean we need to hoard hundreds of thousands in the bank but we should make plans to live within our means rather than in debt.
  • Time - Time is something that no-one can get more of. It might sound a bit somber but the minute we are born our time has started to run out. Wasting our time on things that do not add value to our lives or has a negative impact is a waste of a non-renewable and precious energy. While it is good to say ‘YES’ to opportunities it is also good to remember principle one and ‘Observe’ when we are not making good use of time and learn to say ‘NO’ too.
  • Energy - This a more obvious area to catch and store energy. Looking at our usage of electricity, water, oil and gas and look to reduce this consumption. By doing this it feeds back into helping us conserve our finances by saving money on bills, improve our health by opting to cycle or walk rather than drive and finally living a little more mindfully and simply can be very beneficial for our state of mind. By reducing our use of energy we are also less of a drain on the larger ecosystem of which we are all so reliant. If we work towards giving back to the system more than we take the planet’s ecosystem can thrive.

Photo caption: Running and exercise are great ways to store energy for the future.

Previous: Designing Your Life with Permaculture: Observe & Interact

Next: Obtain a Yield

Josh Davis is an outdoor educator and facilitator exploring ways we can learn from the natural world. He offers one on one coaching and consulting to help design your life from permaculture. 

You can find out more at

For more ideas about designing your life with permaculture

Book: Cultural Emergence by Looby Macnamara

Book: People and Permaculture by Looby Macnamara

Book: Zen in the Art of Permaculture by Stefan Geyer