The 12 Design Principles of Permaculture as Rules of Living

Erin Meyer
Land And Ladle
Published in
3 min readOct 18, 2017


There are 12 design principles in permaculture. I think they can be applied to daily life, work and play which will allow us to live happier and healthier, to work more effectively and to create a more sustainable world.

Here are the 12 principles:

Observe and interact.

Catch and store energy.

Obtain a yield.

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback.

Use and value renewable resources and services.

Produce no waste.

Design from patterns to details.

Integrate rather than segregate.

Use small and slow solutions.

Use and value diversity.

Use edges and value the marginal.

Creatively use and respond to change.

How can we use these principles to guide our life or our work?

Observe and interact- Let’s slow down and observe and appreciate our surroundings and others. Let’s slow down and interact with others, in real life, not on our phones.

Catch and store energy- Take time to relax to restore balance and energy. Also, for me this means associating myself with those who bring positive energy and it means doing things that bring me joy and make me feel energized like running and learning.

Obtain a yield- In permaculture, this of course might mean planting in such a way that the most food is created. The food is the reward. In life, we can work to obtain an intrinsic or extrinsic reward. These rewards need not be strictly financial. Perhaps the reward is making a difference in your client’s life or making your coworker’s day a little bit easier.

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback- Self-regulation or self-control allows us to be accountable and it empowers us. Feedback helps us improve which will help us excel at work.

Use and value renewable resources and services and produce no waste- These two principles are simply common sense tips to living a eco-friendly lifestyle and in creating a more sustainable world.

Design from patterns to details- Permaculture calls for standing back and observing patterns in nature and in society and then filling in the details; this might make for a more efficient and logical way to work as well.

Integrate rather than segregate and use and value diversity- These principles translate perfectly in how we should all live in harmony with each other by integrating everyone into our communities and valuing diversity.

Use small and slow solutions- Permaculture uses small and slow solutions because they are easier to manage than bigger solutions and they allow for the use of local resources leading to more sustainable outcomes. While this may not always be feasible- sometimes we need big and fast solutions to solve some of society’s greatest problems- this principle can potentially be a valuable tool for problem solving.

Use edges and value the marginal- Permaculture suggests that the interface between things is where the most interesting things take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive parts of the system. This might mean extending a community garden out onto an edge near an unused railway. In life and work, we can try to more effectively use our resources including the edges.

Creatively use and respond to change- This requires no explanation, but in a changing world, it remains an important principle in both life and work. To remain a viable and sustainable business and to live well, we must be resilient and creatively work with change.

Using these principles may allow us to create a better life and a better world by caring for the earth and caring for people.



Erin Meyer
Land And Ladle

Running the streets and advocating for sustainable eats.