Permaculture Ethics

What is Permaculture?

The term permaculture was coined by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in the late 1970s after they became concerned about the impact of industrial agriculture. Specifically, they were concerned about industrial agriculture's impact on non-renewable resources, the landscape, the soil, biodiversity, the land, and the water.


In response to this concern, the two developed a philosophy that they believed would help people live and prosper in the environment, while still working alongside nature in a positive way. The two men developed their ideas by carefully observing the natural world and integrating common sense into these observations. Eventually, these ideas were broken into the three core tenants of permaculture which are now known as the permaculture ethics. The permaculture ethics make permaculture unique among the sciences as most sciences do not have ethical principles.


Permaculture also incorporates twelve design principles which are the basis of permaculture design, laid out by David Holmgren in his book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. These principles cannot only be applied to nature, but also work and everyday life. By applying these principles, we can live more sustainably and efficiently.


A key piece to permaculture is the three permaculture ethics, as they form the foundation for the practice of permaculture.


The permaculture ethics are known as: 

  • Earth Care 

  • People Care

  • Fair Share



The permaculture ethic known as Earth Care states that we should preserve and restore the Earth. One common way that people practice Earth care is by practicing the three R’s: reuse, reduce, and recycle. By practicing the three R’s it is simple to reduce your impact on the Earth.


Another way to practice Earth Care is by picking up litter. Picking up litter or participating in river or beach cleanup is a fun and easy way to care for the Earth.


In part, the Sustainable Future Center lives out the principle of Earth Care by composting.



People Care is the idea that we should take care of others, ourselves, our families, and the community around us. If our needs and the needs of those around us are met, then the environment will thrive. Part of people care means becoming more self-reliant and accepting responsibility for the positions that we are in.


Another way to practice People Care is by making sure that people have access to the resources they need. Here at the Sustainable Future Center, we share what we know about gardening and living sustainably so that people have the knowledge and resources they need to live sustainably also.



Fair Share is the idea that we should redistribute surplus and set limits on what we use and consume. One important piece of fair share is recognizing when we have enough. One way that the Sustainable Future Centers practices Fair Share is by giving away extra vegetables from the garden to the needy. Other ways to practice Fair Share include sharing gardening tools with other gardeners and sharing your extra time to help others with their own gardens.

Permaculture Ethics