Why Permaculture?

A Real Green Life – a Way of Living That Makes a Difference

“REAL” – genuine, authentic, true; not artificial, imitated, or virtual. “GREEN” – regenerative, or doing as little harm as possible.

I’d like to share some ideas relating to living “a real green life,” which for me is a way of living that’s not grand or heroic, and it’s also not always easy.  But it IS very simple, and it’s a way of living that can make a difference.

“Real” means…

For me, “real” has to do with things like…

  • Real values – exploring and developing your own values and being guided by them as much as possible.
  • The real you – doing your best to find out who you really are. (As opposed to who you think the rest of the world wants you to be.) And making a sincere commitment to be as kind and inclusive toward the real you as you would be toward any one else.
  • Real food – growing some of your own and making choices that nourish your family and the land/community that grew the food.
  • Real, clean ways of caring for your self and family – with regards to what to put on your skin and in your body (and what not to).
  • Real vs fake – being willing to learn to see through the fakes, fads, and quick fixes. Ditching the substitutes and going after what you really need. (For example, real vs fast food; real home-based healthcare vs pharmaceuticals; real in-person hugs, tears, and laughter vs emojis.)

And “green” means…

… green feels a little easier to explain. To me it has to do with making choices that are regenerative, or at least that do as little harm as possible.

In any area of our lives we can ask, is this choice or action regenerative? Or in the absence of a regenerative choice, is this the least harmful action I can take?

The principle applies regardless of what specific thing we’re talking about. You might be wanting to restore and regenerate, or at least minimise harm, to the health of a river, a forest, an ecosystem, a relationship, your own health… the list can be endless.


Why is this important?

Most of us have fallen under a spell that tells us we’re individual and separate in a world where there’s not enough to go around.

We’re under the illusion that in order to survive we can (or must) keep taking what we want/need in damaging ways, even when we know what the consequences are.

We’re so overwhelmed by the challenges we face collectively that we assume there’s nothing we can do (and it’s all our fault but it’s too late now).

We’re so in the habit of controlling each other/being controlled that we’ve forgotten how to think for ourselves in ways that could help us get out of the trap we’re in.

And we assume that controlling each other is necessary and failing was inevitable because humans are just basically bad.

Living according to these assumptions, this story, traps us on a merry-go-round where all we can hope for is more of the same. To change it, we need to make different choices, redevelop our skills of self-reliance, and develop and live by values that serve Life, rather than the economy.


Personal and practical skills for changing the story and making a difference

For me, a real green life is one that sets out to examine our habits, assumptions, and illusions. To practice letting go of the ones that aren’t serving us and leaning into the story of a “more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible,” to borrow from the title of Charles Eisenstein’s book.

Living a real green life includes the inner work of reclaiming our sovereignty as individuals and building our capacity to care effectively — for ourselves, each other, and our World.

It also includes a commitment, however small, to the hands on stuff — things like growing some of our own food and taking back responsibility for our basic healthcare,.


Does “real and green” have to be big and heroic?

Some people rug up and go to the arctic to advocate for whales and polar bears. Some hug trees. Some camp in blockades. Some teach at universities; some write books. Some join or lead political campaigns.

And thank goodness they all do.

But what if you’re “just an ordinary person” who isn’t doing anything big, heroic, and visible? Do you have the feeling that you can’t make any difference to anything, that whatever you do can’t be scaled and is therefore useless?

While the activists and authors are doing their thing, other people are parenting. Teaching children at home or in schools. Working in healthcare or social work settings. Some are janitors and some are serving coffee or stacking shelves. Some are growing food or recycling wastes.

Are those kinds of work less important than the first set of examples I gave?


The real work

Regardless of what you’re doing in the world, I’m convinced that the most important part of anybody’s work involves building a very un-heroic, very real and un-glamorous foundation of self-reflection and self-care. In my opinion, that’s the real work.

Without that foundation, whatever you build will ultimately crumble. With it, your work (regardless of whether it’s big or small) will make a difference.

The world doesn’t need glamorous, highly visible champions and heroes nearly as much as it needs you and I to just take care of ourselves and our families in a way that aligns with our values.



Kate writes at ARealGreenLife.com about personal and practical ways to take better care of our selves, our families, and the world around us. Her eBook, “One Small Serve,” describes how to grow and use 7 beginner-friendly food plants that you can harvest from for years without having to replant.

Kate Martignier

Kate writes at ARealGreenLife.com – an exploration into thinking differently and living a more natural, connected, and sustainable life.

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