There is an inherent link between permaculture and minimalism, so it’s no wonder why people are finding ways to combine the two ways of living into one super-philosophy. Both minimalism and permaculture hinge on utilizing highly efficient systems to make room for the important things in life: interconnectedness, abundance, and sustainability. Let’s take a closer look at the link between the two ideas:
Permaculture puts great importance on taking care of people. In fact, people care is one of the three main ethics of permaculture. Permaculture can influence communication, help foster connections between people, and support healthy relationships. People tend to create lasting connections while working together to meet a common need, and these types of situations are very common in the permaculture community.
Perhaps people care is intrinsic to permaculture in part because the local food movement is rooted in relationships and values. When you’re practicing permaculture, it’s impossible to separate people from food — and why would you want to? Half the joy of eating something is knowing the story of how it came to be on your plate.
Similarly, minimalism also seeks to improve personal well-being, often through relationships. Some minimalists are motivated by financial or environmental reasons, and a majority seem to be at least partly motivated by personal mental well-being.
Clutter (both mental and physical) can pile up quickly, taking up far more of your bandwidth than it should. It’s difficult to think clearly and creatively when there are piles of junk here and endless shopping and to-do lists there. Minimalism helps people clear away the junk and make room for what matters — and that’s often relationships and self-care.
Permaculture creates abundance — abundance of food, connections, systems, and value. When you visit incredible permaculture sites, abundance is everywhere. Everything seems to be teeming with life, color, sound, and energy.
Abundance might seem contrary to the philosophy of minimalism, but I believe it’s actually central. Clearing out excess things, thoughts, and relationships that are no longer serving you can make space for abundance that doesn’t take the form of things you’d bring home from a shopping spree.
Pursuing a minimalist lifestyle can help foster an abundance of creativity. Minimalist toys like wooden blocks (instead of high-tech toys), for example, have even been proven to be better for creativity and healthy brain development. When you have space to think, creativity flows. The same goes for permaculture. Creativity flows when you’ve created space and systems that work with you — not against you.
Working with and fostering the development of systems that already exist in nature makes far more sense than trying to conquer things into submission. The very definition of “sustainable”includes ideas about working with nature instead of against it. That’s the beauty of permaculture.
Minimalism relies on systems as well — systems of organization, systems for decluttering your home, and systems of maintenance. We must use systems so useless things don’t pile up, which can easily happen when we live in a world that often seems to value “things” above all else.
Most importantly, perhaps, permaculture is about conserving resources, which minimalism ties perfectly into with the value it places on living with less. Needing less and living with less makes it easier to avoid wasting precious natural resources.
With the ever-present threat of the effects of climate change and peak oil, conserving our resources is more important than ever. Minimalists’ often make an effort to be zero-waste or plastic-free, which, in and of itself, would be an incredible feat for sustainability. Imagine if everyone adopted a plastic-free lifestyle. That’s an idea permaculturalists could get on board with.
Perhaps adopting the philosophies of both minimalism and permaculture can help each of achieve a satisfying and sustainable life. By thinking about people, abundance, systems, and resources, it’s easy to see the link between the two and why so many people who practice one are drawn to the other.
Lettie Stratton is a writer and urban farmer in Boise, ID. A Vermont native, she is a lover of travel, tea, bicycles, plants, cooperative board games, and the outdoors. She’s still waiting for a letter from Hogwarts.
Photo by PHÚC LONG / Unsplash