Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Manifesto Fundamental: Collect Leftovers and Momentum

Laws of energy are predictable, so use them to your advantage!

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Permaculture Plus Design Tip: Chase Your Tail

This could just as easily have gone into Go Waste-Free.

I learned this concept from a beautiful book called An Everlasting Meal. Chasing your tail is the skill of catching delicious dribs and drabs in the kitchen and saving them for later to use as redesigned leftovers. For example, store bacon grease in a small bowl in the fridge until the next time you need some fat for a kitchen project. Save your bread crumbs to top a casserole or some roasted chicken thighs. Candy the orange peel you would ordinarily throw away and use it as a garnish.

“The bones and shells and peels of things are where a lot of their goodness resides.” - Tamar Adler, An Everlasting Meal

And, if nothing else, vegetable, bread, and fruit scraps can go to the garden compost heap and meat, fat, and egg scraps can be delivered to the food digester. If you own your own home or maintain control over your house garden, there is never a reason to throw away food - just return it to the soil via hot or cold compost.

Permaculture Plus Design Tip: Cook in Batches and Freeze Ahead

You may have done this dozens of times. The idea of cooking a large quantity of food and then freezing it for later use is a solid one. I like to cook bean, meat, and vegetable combinations in my slow cooker and then freeze the leftovers in individual-sized portions for later retrieval. This works well with cookies, any reasonably creamy or liquid food, and with food that is dehydrated, dried, or otherwise shelf-stable.

I bring this up because it’s an introduction to the world of task batching. Get ready to have your hair blown back; task batching is amazing.

Permaculture Plus Design Tip: Batch and Anchor Recurring Chores

Now - get this - you can apply the same system to any recurring chore. Taking out the garbage. Doing the laundry. Washing the dishes. I asked my sweetie to design a laundry system for me (just for my own clothes.) Here’s what he came up with:

  • On Tuesday morning, just before you drop your son at school, toss your clothes into the washing machine.
  • When you return from dropping off your son, transfer your washed but wet clothes into the dryer.
  • When I, your sweetie, return home in the early evening, use that as your cue to put away your clean, dry clothes.

And you know what? It works like a charm. It uses the anchor system of habit formation. It uses batching. And, because I only have enough clothes to fill one (or maybe two) loads of laundry, I only have to do my laundry once a week. Not bad at all. *buffs knuckles, even though I didn’t create this system*

Critically: this means that I don’t worry on Wednesday or Sunday or whatever about my laundry. I know that the Tuesday system works. My brain energies are free and clear to worry about other things.

Permaculture Plus Design Tip: Deliberately Develop A Habit of Cleaning-As-You-Go

Automaticity is the name of the game here, and you may want to refer to the Habit Formation section.

Get into the habit of cleaning constantly. On the move? Always be correcting the course of objects, realigning synergies, and bringing the systems back into balance. But do it via a back burner system of habits; impulses so primordial that you’re scarcely aware that you’re cleaning. When you’re working in a room or passing through one area to get to another, be on the lookout for an object that can be shuffled back into its best place for the system.

Surprise! Chasing your tail is perfectly G-Rated. And delicious.

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Footnotes!

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Like the Golden Rule, but in reverse I guess.

Ooh, tell your friends!