Permaculture Ethics


Ethics is what you do in the dark when no one’s watching.

– Rushworth Kidder (2003), the founder of the Institute of Global Ethics

Permaculture Ethics form the foundations of the permaculture design system and guide us to make decisions that support us to live an ethical life.   So, my goal is to make my actions congruent with the ethics of permaculture.

Permaculture Ethics have usually included three broad maxims.

Earth Care

Husband soil, forests and water.

People Care

Look after self, kin and community.

Fair Share

Set limits to consumption and reproduction, and redistribute surplus.

Ethics and Design Principles Poster

A very useful diagram is the Ethics and Design Principles Poster that is a visual summary of David Holmgren’s conceptualisation of permaculture.  It includes icons for the three permaculture ethics and also for each of the 12 design principles.

This is generously made available under a creative commons license at

Click on the link to download the PDF.  Ethics and Design Principles Poster

Short Video

This short video from the Oregon State University Ecampus explains the interconnection of the three permaculture ethics concisely and effectively.


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Debbie Bassingthwaighte is a teacher, facilitator and mentor who aspires to live her very best life.  Her passion is to nurture and celebrate the unique and limitless potential of every learner.