Nature produces no waste. One organism’s waste is another’s food and this is how energy cycles through the web of life in a closed system. We on the other hand produce huge amounts of waste which end up on landfills. In our Permaculture design we work hard to design systems that produce no waste. For instance, all food scraps are given to either composting worms, black soldier fly or chooks. In turn the composting worms produce rich castings and worm juice which once again activate the soil where we grow our vegetables. This means we do not have to bring in soil conditioners. Chooks produce eggs and meat. Their manure is used for compost teas and nourishment of the soil. The black soldier fly make quick work of any dead animals and meat waste. They to turn it into juice for use as a soil amendment and the larvae can be feed to chooks for protein. Understanding the waste streams on your property allows you to deliberately choose one type of design element over another to ensure that you design a closed system. If you cannot manage the waste from one of your design elements don’t use it, find another element that can do the same job. A good example of this is plastic. We are all aware of the huge build up of plastic in our oceans, in our soils and recently discovered in the food we eat. Instead of using plastic use wax cloth wraps to cover food. When going to the supermarket take a reusable bag to pack things into and where possible avoid products that are wrapped in plastic, especially those products that have double plastic wrapping. As a society we are used to someone else taking care of our waste and therefore don’t think twice about where it goes and the effect it has on our environment.
Make changes to your lifestyle slowly. Eliminate one waste stream at a time and before you know it you will be living more sustainably taking responsibility for any waste you might produce.