VI. Ecological Goals
Permaculture style gardens in public areas
Concrete and asphalt covered ground, identical looking buildings, geometrical, straight roads, lack of any plants or trees: these are elements that are stifling to the human soul. Living in this environment, we begin forget what Planet Earth actually looks like! It is no wonder we don’t take care of the environment if we don’t have the feeling we even live in the environment. In cramped apartment buildings, we live closer than ever before, yet we feel more socially isolated than ever. We don’t feel like part of a larger community of apartment dwellers; we hoard and protect our own little possessions, as if we were inmates in a large prison.
Instead, I believe we should include all sorts of natural elements into our residential areas: trees, grass, shrubs, stone walkways, ponds and small brooks, hills, curves, and anything wild! Not only is this a far more peaceful, beautiful surrounding to live in; but it also reminds us every day that it is our duty to protect and maintain the natural plant and animal life of this planet. Because of the immediate, obvious fact that we live in a beautiful environment, I believe we would work together towards maintaining and taking care of our neighborhoods and towns.
Incorporating a high level of edible public vegetation would bring us closer to a state where the environment we live in gracefully supports our survival. It would ensure food security for the citizens (no more starving homeless people!) and relieve some of the pressure exerted upon agriculture.
Preserve plenty of undisturbed wilderness
We humans are dependent on the proper functioning of the planet’s ecosystem in order to survive. The air we breathe must be filtered by trees and plants, our oceans must be filtered by coral reefs and microorganisms, and the food we eat must be grown on nutritious soil, and produced by healthy plants. There are countless other species involved, such as bees, earthworms, and the multitude of insects, fungi, and algae which our ecosystems depend on. Many cycles of our ecosystems work along the principle of “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure”. For example, we are dependent on the presence of highly specialized microorganisms that turn waste into usable material : the ones in your intestines turn digested food into feces, the ones in the soil turn feces into fertile humus. Without them, plants wouldn’t grow, we couldn’t digest our food, and the ground would be littered with rotting waste.
At the present stage, we do not fully understand all the complexities of these ecosystems, and we cannot recreate them. Their supreme sophistication and specialization has arisen over millions of years of evolution. We therefore must try not to interfere with them, provided they are still functioning. We must become conscious of the cycle of water, air and soil, and find ways to harvest water and energy, and produce waste in line with those cycles. The interplay between our lifestyles and our health is fragile, so we cannot afford to drastically change our lifestyles and food intake until all factors are understood. As the macro-organism that has sustained our life from the beginning, the planet deserves our deepest respect and honor, and it should be our first duty to maintain its functioning.
Aside from the farms and food forests that provide for our needs directly, we must set aside a large portion of land for uncultivated wilderness where natural diversity of plants and animals can develop without the imposed frame of human control.
In the current form of capitalism, it is near impossible for the consumer to escape the daily activity of creating large amounts of unrecyclable product, water, and human waste.
1) Almost every product comes with plastic packaging, and most people don‘t have any kind of recycling options for their trash pick up. Obviously this is a well-known environmental problem, but I disagree with placing the responsibility on consumers. If everything I can buy is wrapped in plastic, it is not my fault if it some of it eventually ends up in the ocean. The solution must be to completely eliminate these materials from short-lived products. Either a new type of plastic must be invented that is biodegradable and has no adverse effects on the environment, or people need to be given the option to use no packaging at all, and instead fill up whatever they need in durable bags or jars they bring themselves. Therefore: All packaging, and every short-lived, perishable product must be fully compostible.
2) Of course, not every product can be made without non-biodegradable materials (computers, phones, etc). Sometimes products exceed the lifespan the user needs (furniture, houses). In these cases, rather than wasting a good table or polluting the environment with your broken phone, you must give the product back to the manufacturer. It is his job to then either: mine it for spare parts (recycling the non-biodegradable materials) or re-distribute the product to another customer. Once a long-lived, non-compostible product has reached the end of its life or the owner has no use for it anymore, he must give it to the manufacturer.
3) Not all discarded products end up in the trash, however: dish soap, hand soap, washing liquid, shower gel, and cosmetics end up in the drain (water waste). The resulting water is also known as greywater. This water can actually be re-used to water plants in your garden. In order for this to work without any environmental concern, it is important that any soaps or cosmetics used contain no harsh chemicals that can‘t be filtered out or tolerated by the plants and their microorganisms. Soaps and cosmetics that enter the water supply must be completely environmentally friendly, so that greywater can be re-introduced into the environment on-site.
4) Human waste has traditionally been seen as a disgusting contaminant that must be washed away using gallons of fresh water along underground pipes that lead to a sewage plant somewhere far away. Instead, we must rediscover its key role in the nutrient cycles of agriculture, and therefore our own sustenance. We can do away with the entire system of sewage treatment and prevent further pollution of water by making human waste recycling the local responsibility of each household. Human waste can be safely and effectively converted into fertile humus by using the composting techniques described in “The Humanure Handbook” by Joseph Jenkins. All human waste and kitchen scraps must be composted.
Only eat wild meat or fish.
No living thing can be seen as apart from nature; each organism needs to eat and receive nutrients; and each organism, when it dies, will be eaten by another and provide nutrients, prolonging its life. When I die, I know that bugs, worms, and microorganisms in the earth will eat and digest my body, and the elements and nutrients that once belonged to me will return to the soil. It’s good practice to not let anything go to waste when something dies- nature “knows” this. I wouldn’t consider eating a fellow human, but even when humans die, we sometimes harvest their organs in order to prolong someone else’s life. So when an animal dies, it makes perfect sense for us (who are also a type of animal) to eat it. If we don’t, some other organism surely will!
The point is not to make the animal suffer needlessly or restrict its freedom while it’s still alive. Factory farmed animals are often kept in small cages and dark rooms, where they become terrified, lonely, and sick. We suppress their instincts of running, foraging, hunting, burrowing, and reproducing. We either castrate males, or force them to impregnate certain females. The young are torn away from the mothers, while the milk that was intended for the young is pumped into bottles for our consumption. Furthermore, keeping livestock requires daily care, an area of land for them to inhabit, and an area of food to be grown for them. Completely aside from the ethical aspect, this is a huge waste of energy and resources. It also creates pollution.
I believe that every animal deserves the chance to live a free, wild life in its natural habitat. This includes space, opportunity and ability to run around, burrow, forage, hunt, and reproduce. Hunting wild animals would be an ethical alternative to farming: that way, you grant the animal a free and natural life that is quickly ended by the attack of a predator; in this case, humans. On a side note, it could be argued that men do have an innate ‘bloodlust’, which contributes to the high incidence of violence, crime, and war in our society. I would suggest that a far more intelligent and honorable outlet for that aggression would be hunting- preferably not hiding behind a bush and firing a gun, but actively pursuing an animal on foot and using either a knife or a bow and arrow to kill the prey. This way, killing the animal requires a combination of both skill and courage with which you ‘earn’ the right to eat the animal, and the animal has a fair chance of escaping. Hunting in this manner could become a rite of passage for young men, and an opportunity to learn that we are just as much a part of nature as any other animal on earth.
Whilst fish are largely still hunted in the wild; the thorough domestication that cows, pigs, and chickens have experienced over the past millennia has bred animals that unfortunately no longer have a wild habitat to return to. If we “freed” all of our farm animals tomorrow, they would likely be ill-equipped to handle their survival- the availible food may not be the right kind for them, and there may be predators or parasites that they have no defense against. Therefore, our task must be to construct a sanctuary for farm animals where they can live peacefully in a quasi-wilderness that was designed for them. Although this will require lots of attention and energy from us humans, I believe it is our responsibility, since we are the ones who are responsible for taking them out of their original habitat in the first place.
Follow sustainable cycles for materials, food, and water
Applied to products:
1. Sustainable harvesting of the materials such as wood, metal, oil, minerals, etc – Materials must always be harvested sustainably – don’t excessively hurt ecosystems, and don’t outstrip the environments ability to replenish the resource.
2. Efficient, sensible use of materials – Only harvest, build or produce something if you already have a plan how to safely dispose of it. (through composting, or recycling). A product must either be made to be 100% recycleable or to create biodegradable waste, in case it breaks or becomes useless.
3. Re-distribution of products that the previous owners have no more use for – When you no longer have use for a product that still works perfectly well, you should give it to another person who does. In the case of a broken product, you should give it back to the manufacturer so he can mine it for materials.
4. Composting or recycling
Applied to food:
1. Sustainable harvest of food – Sustainable farming practices must be utilized, such as the Grow Biointensive method. Don’t damage ecosystems and don’t outstrip the environment’s ability to replenish the resource.
2. Cooking seasonally and less wastefully – One should never waste food; instead learn to cook with whatever fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables, and animal products happen to be in season at that time.
3. Re-distribution of leftovers for people who are still hungry – Households can set their leftover ingredients out on their porch. Couriers then drive through the neighborhood and pick them up. They would then bring these leftovers to the farm and set up a buffet for anyone in the town who was still hungry that day.
4. Composting all food scraps in the compost / Depositing human waste in composting toilets – Food scraps from cutting fruit and vegetables should be discarded into compost. Human waste must be dealt with by each individual household, by using composting toilets.
Applied to water:
1. Sustainable harvesting of water from rain – Every house must practice rainwater harvesting, then filter it for human use.
2. Intelligently sparing use in showers, sinks, and washing machines – Several intelligent water-saving techniques must be in use, such as motion-sensors in the sink and shower to not let water run on pointlessly, and an option to toggle “re-circulation mode” in the shower (becoming more like a bath).
3. Re-distribute excess water – Excess harvested water that cannot be stored in the water tank must be siphoned into containers and set out for Couriers to pick up and redistribute to those in need, similar to excess food.
4. Re-introducing greywater into the environment – Greywater must be let back into the environment. The resource is harvested on site and re-introduced into the environment on site- thereby not depriving the environment of the resource; only delaying its movement slightly.