5 Principles of Permaculture Explained

Principles of permaculture are; waste recycling, environmental justice, resource conservation, biologic control, and minimal synthetics.

This article discusses the principles of permaculture, as follows;



1). Waste Recycling (as one of the Principles of Permaculture)

In permaculture, efforts are made to convert all waste materials to useful, reusable products.

Because less synthetic materials are introduced into a permacultural farm, most of the waste is organic and biodegradable.

As a result, biodegradation serves as a sustainable means by which waste can be recycled in permaculture.

This is exemplified by composting, which involves the use of agricultural biomass to produce organic fertilizer.

Another effective way to achieve zero-waste operations on a permacultural farm is waste-to-energy conversion.

Permaculture encourages the use of facilities like biorefineries, and methods like anaerobic digestion, gasification, torrefaction and pyrolysis, to transform agricultural waste to biofuel which can be used to generate electricity or heat for agricultural processes.

Waste recycling optimizes the manner in which bioenergy is conserved on permacultural farms, thereby mimicking the function of the energy pyramid in a natural ecosystem.

Principles of Permaculture: Waste Recycling (Credit: SuSanA Secretariat 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)
Principles of Permaculture: Waste Recycling (Credit: SuSanA Secretariat 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)


2). Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is a concept which has to do with the assurance of social equity in the use of resources, and protection from unfavorable socioeconomic and environmental impacts of natural and anthropogenic processes; such as resource depletion, unemployment, climate change, disease outbreak, natural hazards and general environmental degradation.

As a principle of permaculture, environmental justice highlights the sociological relevance of permaculture and sustainable farming in general.

It is closely linked to food justice, which is a similar concept that defends the importance of social equity in access to quality agricultural products [3].

Permaculture adheres to these principles by placing higher priority on sustainability over short-term profits.

The techniques and practices of permaculture aim to protect the Earth and its populations from all forms of environmental injustice and inequity in the distribution of environmental impacts or conditions; by mitigating all negative consequences associated with unsustainable agriculture.


3). Resource Conservation

By its nature, the practice of permaculture in crop and livestock farming will invariably lead to the conservation of resources, especially when compared to conventional agriculture.

Resources that are conserved in permaculture are mainly soil, water, and energy.

Other principles of permaculture are closely tied to resource conservation as an outcome; including waste recycling, minimal synthetics and environmental justice.

Resource conservation in permaculture, leads to ecologic stability while improving the economic conditions of the agricultural sector and its related fields.


4). Biologic Control

Biological control has to do with the use of organic methods and materials to address the needs and problems of agriculture.

The implementation of biological control has been advocated as an acceptable measure for ecologic sustainability and environmental justice in agriculture, and hence is one of the principles of permaculture [2].

Cover crops can be used to control weeds, crop rotation for plant diseases, and predatory organisms for pests.

Livestock diseases may also be controlled using biomedical materials and methods, and organic fertilizer can be used to address infertility of soil.

Although biological control does not have instantaneous effects as the use of synthetic chemicals, it brings long-term sustainability, self-sufficiency, and resilience, to the farm.


5). Minimal Synthetics (as one of the Principles of Permaculture)

Minimizing the use of synthetic materials on the farm is one of the main objectives of permaculture.

In line with this, organic materials like compost are used in place of synthetic alternatives, for all replaceable functions.

The benefits of this approach include less risk of soil and groundwater pollution. High-quality organic farm products are also derived from a minimal-synthetics approach..

Compared to conventional farming, permaculture may yield lower volume of products in the short term [1]. However, this yield increases significantly in the long-term.



Principles of permaculture are;

1. Waste Recycling

2. Environmental Justice

3. Resource Conservation

4. Biologic Control

5. Minimal Synthetics



1). Gambiza, J. (2019). “Permaculture: Challenges and benefits in improving rural livelihoods in South Africa and Zimbabwe.” Sustainability 11(8):2219. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082219. (Accessed 24 October 2022).

2). Hathaway, M. D. (2015). “Agroecology and permaculture: addressing key ecological problems by rethinking and redesigning agricultural systems.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-015-0254-8. (Accessed 24 October 2022).

3). Millner, N. (2017). “‘The right to food is nature too’: Food justice and everyday environmental expertise in the Salvadoran permaculture movement.” Local Economy 22(6). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2016.1272560. (Accessed 24 October 2022).

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