Permaculture in the City

This article is not about growing food in city. We will talk about city life, where you work 8 to 6 and still have a social life, and trying to pay a mortgage or two and live on plastics rather than cash money.

Life in metropolitan cities are fast, relies on money and communication is mostly online. How can you sustain your existence in a fast moving life style? There are two ways of doing this. One, you might move to a rural area and live to create abundance based on available permaculture rules. Two, try to be sustainable in city life. These two options have got different parameters. If you try to grow food in your balcony, that would be fusion of those two.

You might think that being sustainable in city would have limited methods and even harder if you are in an apartment. But this limitation actually triggers imagination for your creativity. I think city life is a closed loop system and we can control many parameters of it.

First of all let’s make a list of things that we spend time, money and energy for.

1. Mortgage

2. Mobile phone

3. Internet connection

4. Electricity

5. Car + fuel

6. Michael and Laura

7. Rent

8. Transportation cards

9. Movie tickets

10. Alcohol, tobacco

11. Facebook

12. Books

13. Gas

14. Food

15. Gym

16. Etc.

Now list your income sources

1. My salary

2. Weekend stall sales

3. Google AdWords income

4. Online sales

5. Second hand Gumtree sales

6. Private tutoring

7. Etc.

Now list your debts

1. Mortgage

2. Car

3. Credit Card

4. Taxation

5. Personal debt to Peter

6. More hours needed on community service

7. Etc.

Now, think off ways to reduce your expenses (time, money, energy) while increasing your income

1. Increasing hits on my blog by writing on certain days often.

2. Cancel the land line phone as I have a mobile anyway.

3. Look at other mobile providers to find a cheaper plan. All works in city anyway.

4. Reduce time spent with Michael and Laura.

5. Increase hand crafts on my stall using my aunt’s friends.

6. Advertise more for my private tutoring.

7. Turn off home devices from the power switch.

8. Charge my mobile at work.

9. Reduce time spent on Facebook to learn a new hobby or skill.

10. Update my CV and look for opportunities that pays more.

11. Investigate things to be done to find a new job. Whom should I meet, what societies should I join, how to increase my networking?

12. How do I invest in myself? How do I best get that investment back? I will look for free courses, TAFE, scholarship options.

13. I will ask for salary rise.

14. Can I find a second job till I finish my credit card debt?

15. I am cancelling some of my credit cards.

16. How much of my salary I can save without disturbing the balance.

17. I will quit smoking.

18. I will open a Patreon account to support my artwork.

19. Replace the car or sell it to use public transport. I can also read, study on public transport.

20. Can I refinance my debt with a plan to finish them in 5 years? Talk to the banks.

Tomato seedlings on the windowsill

As you see dear reader, the parameters of a sustainable life in metropolitan cities are different than a permaculture farm. You can also grow food in your balcony, terrace, an empty land or in a community garden but don’t forget that each extra thing you do will reduce the time spent on other things. If you don’t get peace, and don’t enjoy or the outputs are not feeding you or not adding any skills to your career advancement; there is no point of pursuing that thing. You have to change and replace it with something more beneficial to you, your life, your career, your relationships etc.

Let’s see what you can do in an apartment flat to live sustainably.

Measure the amount of rubbish you create. Do you separate them as organic and inorganic? Try to reduce your overall rubbish and reuse or recycle things. If you burry that banana skin under a plant in a pot, you will get more benefit out of it. Separate recyclable things in your rubbish and make sure you put them in correct bins.

Ditch the car and a get a second hand bicycle. Find out the local bicycle maintenance club and fix the bike. Improve your DIY skills.

Cancel the gym. It doesn’t work anyway. Try running or walking.

If your kitchen sink doesn’t have a diverter, get one and use the mostly clean water for your pot plants.

Reduce electricity usage and opt for LED lights. This does not only effect your electricity bill but also good for environment. Some electricity providers replace the downlights with LEDs. They are not the best lights to read or do craft but should be enough.

We eat way too much than we need. We don’t need all that calories, fats and sugars. Reduce your food intake by half and do more exercise like walking or running (things you can do free). You will see that while money is staying in your pocket, you will get back your health. Try to prepare your lunch at home and cut out the take away to once a week.

Can you reduce your plastic rubbish? Carry your own cloth shopping bags and opt for unpackaged food. Packaged food is not good for you anyway. Visit farmer’s market regularly, talk to your farmer and support them by buying their produce. Ask them how they grow, is it organic, how far their farm to here. They are human at the end and need this sort of interaction like yourself.

Do not improvise at grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Always make a list and always shop on a full stomach (actually should be 3/4 full). You will even save time on shopping let alone money.

Get mp3s of your favourite songs and upload them to your phone rather than listening them through online services and churning your data allowance.

When you make your own lists and implement the things one by one, you will see many improvements in your life.

There are things you can and should do for your mental health as well. Put some flower pots on your desk at the office or some colourful paintings. If you have a sunny balcony, grow some plants. If you have a terrace or a flat roof build a veggie garden just for fun. Don’t worry about being a renter, just do it and transfer those to the next person renting the same place. While you are bettering your mental health, you are also helping the person after you or may be even inspiring neighbours.

Go to the book store and enter the aisle you’ve never entered before. Pick a book and start reading. See what sort of different ideas will your brain come up with after this.

Never think about a pet. You are living in an apartment with a limited income. A pet would blow your budget. Think about the psychology of that pet as well while they are at home alone throughout the day. They can’t socialize enough at all. Instead feed the birds at your balcony or park with the bread crumbs left over which would be more sustainable.

Try baking bread or making yogurt at home. These things are easy to make at home and will reduce your supermarket bill while being more nutritious.

Follow announcement boards to find out the free presentations, workshops etc. Go there and meet with new people.

Ditch the credit cards if you can and live on cash for a change. Know your accounts and evaluate the necessity of everything you want to buy. Can you borrow it from a friend. Would library have a copy of this book. You can even ask the library to get the book for their archive and later borrow it.

City life is a system. You need to find out the inputs and outputs of this system to be able to make a good plan and squeeze the best benefit out of it for yourself. I am hoping this article will help you to build your plans towards a better future for yourself.

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