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8 forms of capital active hope agroecology agroforestry alder buckthorn Amazon anxiety apples arthritis back yard beans Bec Hellouin beech tree bees beneficial berries biochar biodigester biodiversity blackberries blackthorn book review brain brassica cage budget build building campesino capital card deck Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens christmas circular clay pot cleansers cleansing milks climate change climate emergency climate grief climate solutions climbers climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation container cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology courgettes crafts crisis crop protection Cross Quarter Festival cultural emergence culture cycles degraded design diary diversity DIY do it yourself dryland earth care Earth's energy ecoculture economics ecopoetry ecosystem ecosystem restoration camps ecosystems edges edible edible flowers education efficiency elder elderflowers elements elixir energy equinox ethics face mask fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs film firewood flower essence flowers food food forest food garden footbath forage foraging forest garden forest gardening forests fruit fruit leather fruit trees fungi future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin Give Nature a voice Glennie Kindred global poverty glut grapes greenhouse grief groundcover grow grow food grow your own growing guilds habitat habits handcream harvest harvests hawthorn hazel hazelnut healing shrubs healing trees health healthy soil heart health hedgerow hedging herbal herbal remedies herbal teas herbalist herbs holistic holistic planned grazing home homeless homemade wine homestead hope Hugelkultur humanure hummus hungry gap IBC tanks Imbolc incense increase yields Indigenous inexpensive influence inspiration International Womens Day jam keyline kitchen garden lacto-fermentation Lammas land landscape landscapes life lifestyle limeflowers livelihood livestock living labs logs lotion low cost low-impact Lush Spring Prize macerations Mangwende Orphan Care Trust market garden market gardening marmalade marshmallow mass heater meadowsweet medicinal microbes microfarm mimic mindset mitigation money moringa Mother Earth mulch multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nature connection nitrogen no dig no waste no-dig November nutrition nuts observe oca October off-grid oil cleansing orchard orchards organic organic gardening outdoor shower oven oxymel oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care peoplecare perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre permayouth pesto pests philippines pine tree pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators pollution polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating protection pruning prunings psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainforest rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regeneration regenerative regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter remedy renewable renewable energy resources restoration reuse revolution rhythms rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans sage salad salve Samhain schools Scotland scotts pine seasonal seasons seeds selfcare Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shade sheet mulching shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions sowing spiritual spring squash stacking functions stock-free straw straw bale summer sustainable Sweet Bay syntropic systems temperate terraces thistles thrutopia timber timber framing tincture tonic toolkit tools transformation trees upcycle urban veg garden vegan veganic vermicomposting vinegar walnuts waste water water cleansing watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild edges wild food wild garlic wildflower wildlife wine recipes wings winter winter greens winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms yarrow year-round food yield young people youth zai pits zone 00 zoning

Topics

8 forms of capital active hope agroecology agroforestry alder buckthorn Amazon anxiety apples arthritis back yard beans Bec Hellouin beech tree bees beneficial berries biochar biodigester biodiversity blackberries blackthorn book review brain brassica cage budget build building campesino capital card deck Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens christmas circular clay pot cleansers cleansing milks climate change climate emergency climate grief climate solutions climbers climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation container cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology courgettes crafts crisis crop protection Cross Quarter Festival cultural emergence culture cycles degraded design diary diversity DIY do it yourself dryland earth care Earth's energy ecoculture economics ecopoetry ecosystem ecosystem restoration camps ecosystems edges edible edible flowers education efficiency elder elderflowers elements elixir energy equinox ethics face mask fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs film firewood flower essence flowers food food forest food garden footbath forage foraging forest garden forest gardening forests fruit fruit leather fruit trees fungi future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin Give Nature a voice Glennie Kindred global poverty glut grapes greenhouse grief groundcover grow grow food grow your own growing guilds habitat habits handcream harvest harvests hawthorn hazel hazelnut healing shrubs healing trees health healthy soil heart health hedgerow hedging herbal herbal remedies herbal teas herbalist herbs holistic holistic planned grazing home homeless homemade wine homestead hope Hugelkultur humanure hummus hungry gap IBC tanks Imbolc incense increase yields Indigenous inexpensive influence inspiration International Womens Day jam keyline kitchen garden lacto-fermentation Lammas land landscape landscapes life lifestyle limeflowers livelihood livestock living labs logs lotion low cost low-impact Lush Spring Prize macerations Mangwende Orphan Care Trust market garden market gardening marmalade marshmallow mass heater meadowsweet medicinal microbes microfarm mimic mindset mitigation money moringa Mother Earth mulch multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nature connection nitrogen no dig no waste no-dig November nutrition nuts observe oca October off-grid oil cleansing orchard orchards organic organic gardening outdoor shower oven oxymel oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care peoplecare perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre permayouth pesto pests philippines pine tree pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators pollution polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating protection pruning prunings psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainforest rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regeneration regenerative regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter remedy renewable renewable energy resources restoration reuse revolution rhythms rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans sage salad salve Samhain schools Scotland scotts pine seasonal seasons seeds selfcare Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shade sheet mulching shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions sowing spiritual spring squash stacking functions stock-free straw straw bale summer sustainable Sweet Bay syntropic systems temperate terraces thistles thrutopia timber timber framing tincture tonic toolkit tools transformation trees upcycle urban veg garden vegan veganic vermicomposting vinegar walnuts waste water water cleansing watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild edges wild food wild garlic wildflower wildlife wine recipes wings winter winter greens winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms yarrow year-round food yield young people youth zai pits zone 00 zoning

6. Energy Cycling – An Original Permaculture Design Principle

Maddy explains a permaculture design principle that turns the world on its head – Energy Cycling. She also offers biological and a business example and also a world-changing idea, the Gift Economy.

All too often, our conventional systems are linear in nature, causing energy sinks which leak resources out of the system. For example, sewage leaches into rivers and oceans where it pollutes habitats and the nutrients which agriculture could re-use are lost. We need to make energy systems that are cyclical, reconnecting energy movements to keep them circulating within the system itself. For instance, we can direct sewage into artificial Waste Ecological Treatment (WET) Systems that remove all the contaminants and pathogens. WET Systems are planted with aquatic and marginal plants and the banks around them are stabilised by varieties of basketry willow. The willow is coppiced annually and used to weave living fences or sold to crafts people. At The Sustainability Centre this provides materials for courses and a small income for the Volunteer programme. The WET System is itself a nature reserve providing valuable habitat in the middle of a chalk downland where ponds are few and far between. So we literally take our waste and turn in it re-sellable resources by cycling it through a WET System.

On a household scale, many of us regularly create heat sinks during the winter when we dump warm water from baths and sinks and hot water from dishwater and washing machines down the drain. By running all the heated water into a holding tank, situated in even a small and inexpensive attached greenhouse of plastic sheeting, we can harness this wasted heat for the greenhouse and house. Once the water has given off its heat, the cold water in the holding tank can be emptied outside. Better still, it can be filtered and/or run through a reed bed and used for irrigation.

Energy cycling and commercial waste

Another very simple energy sink is commercial waste. When we (Permanent Publications) moved to The Sustainability Centre in 1998 we decided not to pay for a waste collection because we wanted to run as low a carbon business as possible and we also wanted to see how difficult it is to recycle, compost or repurpose all of our waste. Kitchen waste is easy to compost, as is any biodegradable materials. We quickly set up glass, paper and clothes banks on the site for our local community as well as us. We reuse cardboard boxes and use excess cardboard to mulch our gardens. As a last resort we pay to recycle it. We shred paper and use it as packaging. We import corn starch wrappers to mail out Permaculture magazine (so far they have to come from Germany and are not manufactured in the UK). Any non-biodegradable packaging is reused. At the end of this cycle we are left with a small amount of materials that are not compostable or recyclable. We reluctantly add them to the waste stream. We have many awards as a company for our zero waste collection policy but really it is common sense. Why throw away materials and then buy them in to package products? Isn’t it better to cycle the resources in good permaculture style and practise Energy Cycling? 

Physical energy is not the only form of energy

Information too is a powerful energy when it cycles in communities. We can begin an energy cycle, not by giving our information to other people, but by asking them for theirs. It is always better to listen first, speak later. Remember the principle of ‘Observe and Interact’?! When people find their information is respected and appreciated, they are likely to be interested in what information we have to offer them.

On a bigger scale, we cycle energy aka information in all our publishing work; in books, magazine issues, digital books, magazines, and of course on this website. Here we receive over 1,200,000 page views every year, that’s 60,000 unique visitors a month. We give away eBooks, features, videos, solutions, films and news on a daily basis. We ask you to share your energy too, by contributing information to this free pool of knowledge and also by telling other people that it is here. (We pay for this through our book and magazine publishing. We have yet to find a free printer and postal service!) Why do we do this?

The gift economy

We have been exploring practical pathways to creating a better world that we all intuitively know is possible but remains elusive. What will the world look like when we learn how to limit growth and live within our ecological means, mitigate climate change, live ethically, look after each other (eradicate global poverty, for example) and share resources not only with the rest of humanity but with the other kingdoms? We believe that our work at Permaculture is about offering hope to people and then backing this up with positive and practical examples from all over the planet to demonstrate that it is possible to change the world. We must not believe that we are powerless to effect change. We must believe that we can create a better, more abundant, biodiverse and ecologically stable world. And one of the first steps is to simply cycle energy – not only on the compost heap or in the WET System – but also freely without the impediment of money within our community of ideas and information.