Day 6: Produce no waste

The day began with a hike. We started 6 a.m in the morning. The dawn slightly appeared and my shoes got wet from the dew. We were in a group of six and went trough fields of maize and bushes of lantana. A long dirt road in front of us and a small hill was waiting to be climbed. The view was impressive. The sun came upand the mist was hanging in the valley. I could not know that this shall be the first lesson of today.

What do we all need? It is available for us in different forms. One of the best ways to store it is in the soils and it is trapped in cycles at least since we have life on this planet. Water. H20. I think when we are talking about water then we can not pass the topic waste. There is this phenomena, that people are using their available resources in a different way, when they have personally seen where they come from and where they go.

There is always a use for something. I have not found a utility for it, I am not creative enough, when I want to throw it away. This is one of the aspects that permaculture wants me to think about. In nature there is nothing with only one use. Every part of the system has multiple utilities.

“Waste is not waste, until you waste it.”

Back to our morning hike. The mist was hanging in the valley above the trees, moments before the sun became to strong. One quarter of the water of a forest is stored above the ground, mainly on the leaves to evaporate. It is a part of a system and contributes to micro-climates. Another quarter is channeled straight into the soil for irrigation and to stabilize the water table.

I enjoyed our practical session today. What have we done? We turned a problem into a solution. The problem was soil erosion caused by water rushing down the slope. We dug a swale and planted vetiver grasses which serves three functions; slowing down, trapping and infiltrating water into the soil. The result: an efficient use of a given resource which was earlier seen as a problem.


Actually forests are oceans. I have never seen it in this way before. We should be glad for every square meter of forest we have got. The forest is the best working system for water-harvesting and -managing. Why? Because forests are used to cover their soil and fertilize it with their “waste”. This term does not exist anymore. They cover mother earth with a highly valuable resource.

Nature does not produce waste, it cycles the energy.”

I would like to consider two more aspects. I want to mention worms. These small soil-producing power stations are phenomenal creatures. And there are two methods you can easily adapt, mulching (covering soil) and composting (turning carbon and nitrogen into humus). We have copied those approaches from our forests.

The principle nº six combines those ideas. Resources are limited. At least, try to bring the energy you have used back to nature, less polluted or with a higher statue of value.

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