"No waste, no lack"
It is easy to waste in times of plenty, but this waste can be the source of subsequent hardships
"A point in time is worth a hundred"
Periodic maintenance is valuable to avoid wastage and major repair and restoration work
This principle brings together the traditional values of frugality and maintenance of material goods, modern pollution concerns, and the more radical view that waste is a resource and a potential. The worm is a good example of this principle because it lives by consuming the vegetable litter (waste) it converts into humus, which in turn improves the soil environment for itself, for soil microorganisms and for plants. Thus, the earthworm, like all living beings, is part of a network where the productions of some are the raw materials of others.
The industrial processes that make our lifestyle possible can be characterized by an "input-output" model, in which inputs are natural raw materials and energy while outputs are goods and services. However, taking a step back and adopting a long-term vision, we can see that all these goods end up in the form of waste (mainly in landfills) and that even the most intangible services lead to the degradation of resources and waste energy. This model could therefore be better defined by the term "consumption excretion". Consider people as mere consumers and
Excretors may be biologically valid, but certainly not ecologically sound.
The proverb "No waste, no lack" reminds us that it is easy to waste in times of plenty but that this waste can be the cause of subsequent deprivations. This is particularly relevant in a context of energy descent. Never in history have we had so many opportunities to reduce waste, and even to make an income. Formerly, only the poorest lived waste. Today we must recognize the creative reuse of waste as the key to a frugal lifestyle on Earth. In addition to household and industrial waste, modernity has created new classes of live waste [plants and undesirable pests] that proliferate as much in our minds as in the landscapes of affluent nations.
Bill Mollison defines a pollutant as "a product of any part of a system that is not productively used by another part of the system". This definition encourages us to look for ways to minimize pollution and waste by designing systems that allow the use of everything that is produced by the subsystems. In response to concerns about snail infestations in perennial gardens, Mollison used to say that the problem was not a surplus of snails but a deficit of ducks. Similarly, in some areas the uncontrolled growth of grassland or forest leads to destruction by bush fires, while in others a surplus of herbivores leads to overgrazing. Innovative and creative ways to use this source of abundance are one of the features of permacultural design.
"A point in time is worth a hundred" reminds us that periodic maintenance is valuable to avoid waste and large repairs and expensive restoration work. Although much less stimulating than the creative work to take advantage of the abundance of waste, the maintenance of what we already have must become a major and permanent concern in a world of energetic descent. Structures and systems are all depreciating, and ecological and sustainable human systems are all devoting resources to the maintenance at the right time.