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The Wheaton Eco Scale

Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Interesting thread. I have mentioned a little what we are doing, but I guess to see where we are on the scale, I will do a full disclosure, or close to it.

We have planted more than 150,000 trees, in Costa Rica, in order to bring back forest. These trees are owned (most of them) by others, to enable to to participate with us in bringing back forest. The land was pasture, how is a young forest, full of food for animals (and people), and much more wildlife. We are now starting to harvest some trees, but it will NEVER be clear cut. As we harvest what is needed to leave room for the rest to grow, we plant slower growing natives, so that we have more diversity - though we planted more than 40 different species. The land is protected from ever being anything other than a forest, other than some living places.

We use oxen to harvest when possible, which is nearly all the time. We recycle wood chips, by sending it to farmers, who buy more by exchanging "dirty" sawdust for clean. You wish you have my supply of organic material. 

I will use my legs to go from place to place, if feasible, if not, a horse or bike, and if not, a small dirt bike, and last resort, diesel car.

I weigh no more than 5 lbs than I should, which means I only eat what I need. (I think being overweight should knock you down a notch in the scale, so Sepp isn't at the top  )

All the energy for our home is renewable (Costa Rica is big into hydro, wind and thermal)

We grow nearly all our food, sustainably. Our meat of choice is mutton, because we have flocks of sheep who clean between the trees, thereby reducing the need to use weed whackers, etc. The waste from butchering mutton goes to two dogs, and to our catfish, which of course we eat.

My garden is pretty much LOTS of fruit trees, which we share with workers, neighbors, birds, etc. I do grow a few veggies, but try for vegetables that are native to the area and are easy to grow.

Our total expenditure, in money, for a year is generally less that 10,000 USD, though our asset base is more nearly 900 acres - with no debt. We could easily sell off what we are doing, and live very well out of four or five star hotels if we choose, but we like our simple life, though we don't live simply, because we have to.

Oh, and because we deal with forestry, our sustainable plans go into decades, not just years. And are carbon foot print is so light, and offset so much by our forest, that it is a wonder we don't float off into space. 

So, where would I be on the scale?


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
branimir marold


Joined: Dec 07, 2011
Posts: 25
about the ecology I can't make scale as I can't put my self in position ..

I would rather say "eco" is natural "lifestyle" meaning maybe atm bushman live like that (I can hope/think .. I can't be aware of the fact) .. I would even exclude hermits cause majority still have interaction with civilisation so in a way they been/are part of it .. or vice versa

if we talking about life style .. imo everything out of that group is "non-eco" so ..


nothing personal - only natural
Levente Andras


Joined: Apr 20, 2010
Posts: 81
    
    1
I find the idea of a scale interesting.

I think a scale like this should be used to assess the impact not only of individual people, but of families, communities, businesses, production methods / techniques, etc.

The scale should extend to below zero - not with the intent of berating people, but rather to provide a realistic assessment of the subject's ecological impact. Lumping together Dick Cheney with the average US or West European consumer would not make the scale very helpful (or fair).

Zero would represent the population average or median. The middle of the scale (five) would mean no ecological footprint, but no positive (regenerative) impact either.

Then every notch from 6 upwards would represent a positive contribution to the environment, the community, etc. - reforestation, soil building, regeneration.

The upper notches would be "reserved" to those who not only have a direct positive impact on their surrounding physical environment, but are also successful in persuading others to positively affect their environment, and teach effective methods for achieving that.

Alternatively, zero could be used to represent "zero impact", i.e., no footprint. In which case 1 to 10 would be the realm of people / activities / lifestyles etc. with a net regenerative effect on the planet. Obviously then most of us would fall in the negative realm...

L _
Raven Sutherland


Joined: Nov 09, 2010
Posts: 128
Location: Massachusetts
I think it's important to set a very good example and to positively influence
the 300 million people in the USA to become more responsible when using
resources that won't pollute. You might fail to be ecologically sound in doing so
but the end result will be worth it. They can then help "green up" the rest of the world.


Digging around on a piece of ground in my home town
waiting for someone or something to show me the way.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Yesterday, I sent out "The Wheaton Eco Test". Something that lines up pretty good with the eco scale.

Although something that isn't mentioned there, nor here, is that I think there are a lot of middle class, or upper class people that have a major impact on our laws that are brainwashed by the greenwashing, and are SURE that they are eco. but they are not. And then they push for changes that are not of benefit to the planet. So the test is based on one simple little metric so that hopefully, some of these people will come to the conclusion "oh my. I thought I was eco, but I am not eco."


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
                        


Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Big Island, Hawaii
digging it up from the internet graveyard...

recently i've been doing solar PV installations to fund my permaculture project, which is restoring bulldozed rainforest with bamboo/koa (high value timber)/food etc. i drive 100 miles each day - 3.5 gallons of gasoline, argh. the last installation we did was for a family that had been living off generator power for 18 years (!!!). if i didn't have chickens, dogs, cats, and a nursery to take care of, i could easily have camped out at work, and saved...um...150 gallons of gasoline in the last few months. not to mention wear on my car and body - i hate driving. but i have to keep my homestead running. it's a permaculture catch-22 for me - i can't move my project forward without some cash, and i can't find decent paying, interesting work without driving. ideally i'd be selling nursery plants and spend my days watching chickens chase bugs around the yard, building garden beds and hunting pigs, but damnit, i havent been able to hop that divide yet.

so im kinda wondering...is it more eco to travel a long distance to do good work that is a valuable learning experience and satifying, or to stay closer to home and scavenge paid work as it comes up, even if it is something like clearing the jungle for some richy rich who wants more lawn (that's the only work i've been able to find inside walking distance)? on the Kaiwiki Eco Scale, it's better to travel and learn. what about the Wheaton eco scale? i seek to learn from my better and wiser (thou no more perfect) permies

aloha


Big Island, Hawaii, 2,000 ft elevation, 200+ inches yearly rainfall.
Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6570
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
I think life itself is kind of a catch-22. Each decision we make is a compromise...a trade-off of some sort.

If your use of gasoline today, while it is cheap, makes you independent from it in the future, when it becomes a precious commodity, I believe you have gained in the long term eco-scale. Each gallon you 'spent' will be saved by them not running their generator.

Nothing is perfect, but each step we take towards it, the closer we become.
Steve Palmer


Joined: Jan 28, 2012
Posts: 18
Level 1: is thinking about the environment. Bought fluorescent light bulbs. Is trying to do a good job of recycling. Reads an article or two. Buys some organic food. Their power bill is less than average.

I have thought about the environment, but I am not doing things to save the world, but because i am cheap. I have bought fluorescent bulbs and will keep using until LED is affordable, they have saved energy in my application, i am not going to argue with anyone the fact they contain mercury, however Southwest Texas contains more, it occurs there naturally.

Level 2: 30% of purchased food is organic

It depends on your definition of organic, everything comes from the earth, man processing or hybridizing food to be more productive has been done since the beginning of time. I prefer food that is what it is, meat is meat and not full of soybeans if I wanted soybeans I would roast them.

Level 3: Has an organic garden and 80% of purchased food is organic

No, garden yet but am working on it and refer to level 2 on food choices

Level 4: Grow 40% of their own food. Studying permaculture. Got rid of all fluorescent light bulbs

I am studying permaculture and am going to use old fashioned ways since I was trained in them as a kid on a farm. There is no point in being stupid about growing a garden there are natural ways to do things without spending money to make the weeds or bugs go away. I really like the idea of reusing stuff that would be trash to make gardens out of.

How an I doing I think not so well on the scale. I really hate labels anyway.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I'm not eco, and probably never will be.


Idle dreamer

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The purpose of the scale is to introduce the idea that three people can be eco, and that one can be more eco than the other two, and one can be less eco than the other two. To show that there ARE levels of eco-ness. Then to talk about the relationships between the different levels, which includes some stuff I see as problematic.

Xisca Nicolas


Joined: Aug 06, 2012
Posts: 979
Location: La Palma Canary Zone 11
    
    8
I have a problem with holding back something from level 4...

Level 4: Grow 40% of their own food. Studying permaculture. Got rid of all fluorescent light bulbs


What if I keep them instead of breaking them into the nearest garbage container?
What if I delay that they die soon by never lighting them for short times?



And how many levels do you go down if your 1st reflex is to look into what level you will stand?


Xisca - Canary - Look at pics! Dry subtropical Mediterranean - My project
However loud I tell it, this is never a truth, only my experience...
LaLena MaeRee


Joined: Jun 14, 2012
Posts: 148
Steve Palmer wrote:
How an I doing I think not so well on the scale. I really hate labels anyway.


My boyfriend and I recently decided we don't know what we are but it doesn't fit into ANY label we have seen so far, even permie. Labels suck, can't we all just be symbiotic
Also, I we fit multiple levels of Paul's scale but lack a few of some levels requirements too, lol


When you throw something away, there is no 'away'
Elia Charalambides


Joined: Jun 13, 2011
Posts: 74
Location: Boston
    
    6
paul wheaton wrote:I think the eco witch hunt thread spells it out a bit.


Some aspects of this article are very true and I think there is definitely an Eco Scale of sorts. I think the best and most effective thing one can do is:

1: Not belittling or shaming or being intolerant in any way of people that are levels below you. All that does in the end is push people away. Elitism is obnoxious.
2: Make "precision strikes" at being Eco in your life. We are all busy people; raising families, working jobs, commuting etc etc. Where in our lives can we put the minimum effort and get the maximum return at being Eco?

One particular quote that rings true from the article:
Persuading your retired parents that it makes no sense for them to buy a GMC Yukon that seats six, given that they are only two, and neither works in construction. ...being generous to the parents who raised you

At a certain point the effort to attempt to persuade people that have lived for so long in a certain system becomes far too much to justify the possible gain.

As the Jesuits used to say:
Give me the child until he's seven and I care not who has him thereafter.


So trying to teach those that will actual make the change in the future is far more important than attempting to persuade people that are already 50+ and stubborn. Sometimes I think the key thing to remember is that no-one wants to do bad . People just have a different notion of what good is, and most of the time its based upon how they were brought up.


Help me develop a design kit for permaculture enthusiasts: http://legendofthegreek.com/permaculture-planning-pack/
Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2658
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  71
Elia Charalambides wrote:
I think the best and most effective thing one can do is:

1: Not belittling or shaming or being intolerant in any way of people that are levels below you. All that does in the end is push people away. Elitism is obnoxious.
2: Make "precision strikes" at being Eco in your life. We are all busy people; raising families, working jobs, commuting etc etc. Where in our lives can we put the minimum effort and get the maximum return at being Eco?



Nice points, Elia. I'm still looking for more #2 "precision strikes" in my life because I really don't think I'm doing enough yet. I think I'll read some threads for some inspiration, starting with frugality...

And hey, I'm actually just a few years from that 50 age though my plan is to keep growing, changing, learning and improving all the way to the end of my days!


Hands-on workshops in all shades of green - Cascadia & Seattle Eco Events Calendar | QuickBooks Consulting and Accounting Services - www.jocelyncampbell.com
Elia Charalambides


Joined: Jun 13, 2011
Posts: 74
Location: Boston
    
    6
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

Nice points, Elia. I'm still looking for more #2 "precision strikes" in my life because I really don't think I'm doing enough yet. I think I'll read some threads for some inspiration, starting with frugality...


Great link! I keep discovering so many things on this site that I just need to bookmark or note for later, when I finally have some space for them. You guys are doing a great job amassing so much useful knowledge.

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
And hey, I'm actually just a few years from that 50 age though my plan is to keep growing, changing, learning and improving all the way to the end of my days!

No offense meant at all to those 50+ . Or any age. I know many that have kept a child-like thirst for learning and experience that while collecting wisdom they still retain an open and receptive mind. I hope to be that way as well, since I think that is one of the best lessons you can pass on to younger generations.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Something that just popped into my head ...

Because three levels ahead looks crazy, and because 90% of the population is at level zero, that means the only stuff that can be shared on big media is level 1 or level 2 stuff.

Things at level 3 or above could be shared in big media, but it would need to be carefully crafted to be digestable.



Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2658
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  71
paul wheaton wrote:
Things at level 3 or above could be shared in big media, but it would need to be carefully crafted to be digestable.


Sometimes the media shares things that do seem crazy or are way out there. With or without careful crafting.

I think that works a bit like a wrecking ball, breaking through the outer structure of society for those few who are ready to follow through the hole it makes. And then, with repeat exposure to this "new" craziness, others will eventually feel safer about making the leap, too.
Rick Larson


Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
I'm level 4!


Soaking up information.
Paulo Bessa
pollinator

Joined: Jun 15, 2012
Posts: 332
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
    
    8
Hey Paul!

Great thread!

First I did this version of the ten levels, without changing your Holzer top position
Then I commented something important below.


Level 1: think the organic word is cool but actually do little about it.

Level 2: is thinking about the environment. Bought fluorescent light bulbs. Is trying to do a good job of recycling. Reads an article or two. Buys some organic food. Their power bill is less than average.

Level 3: 30% of purchased food is organic

Level 4: Has an organic garden and 80% of purchased food is organic. Studying permaculture or has done a PDC. Has at least asparagus growing on its garden.

Level 5: Grow 40% of their own food. Got rid of all fluorescent light bulbs. Has read nearly every book on permaculture, read most permies threads, and watch most videos and podcasts on it. Has a few perennial species on its garden, and most of them are annuals.

Level 6: Permaculture teacher and/or grows 90% of their own food. Probably generates its own energy. Has started a food forest garden. Probably experimented with greywater recycling, compost toilets, solar stoves, doing its own soap, etc...

Level 7: Living a footprint that is 10 times lighter than average. Maybe living in community. Maybe living in something very small.

Level 8: Doing things that are currently improving the world in big ways. Has a mature forest garden.

Level 9: masanobu fukuoka, paul stamets, art ludwig, bill mollison, ianto evans ....

Level 10: the mighty, the glorious, the amazing Sepp Holzer



What about those that do NOT have land or enough money? It is very nice to talk about these scales and how permacultural we might become, but people need food and shelter, and in all nations people must pay for it, and many people are poor or do not have enough money for it, and most must work in cities and use cars to provide their living. What about those people? We simply cannot criticize people for their needs and lifestyles.

And to those of us here: even if we have enough money and land, even then sometimes you have a very harsh climate for growing most of your food (say a desert or a polar climate as the one I live), or you live so isolated that you need a car and end up polluting. Then people like Bill Mollison, Fukuoka or Holzer travelled around the world, they were obviously having a footprint much larger than people down the scale. Yes, lots and lots of questions. The world is not easy.

However I do agree with getting rid of fluorescent bulbs. They have mercury gas: not nice to break them as once happened with me.


Regarding Holzer: once in Austria I was unemployed and I want to visit him. But he wanted to charge me about 200 USD for a day visit to his farm. I thought "this is insane" and from that moment I had always a dislike for Holzer. Yes, he does amazing great things but he wanted to charge me a lot of money at a time I couldn't afford. Permaculture must be easy to teach for all types of people, not only for privileged rich people. Otherwise it will never change the world. Because of this, I teach now permaculture for free.


Our projects:
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
Paulo Bessa
pollinator

Joined: Jun 15, 2012
Posts: 332
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
    
    8
Exactly what I think.

Actually I have never did a PDC and I don't feel that is significant for me, anymore. Because all I learnt the theory in all the books, podcasts, videos, articles, there is a ton of information on the internet. And then I practice it. Practice, practice, practice.

And actually most PDC courses I have seen only teach very generalistic knowledge. Too much money asked for too little new information for me. At least I refer to the ones in my home country Portugal: it seems everyone is giving courses every month, but these are teachers that do not even grow a perennial garden, just simple annual gardens. Is that really permaculture or worth of a PDC? I guess its more a money making thing.

Unless it is a course given by people like Fukuoka, Mollisson or Holzer; those I would very happy in doing.


gourd all mighty wrote:
paul wheaton wrote:
Permaculture Design Course.  Typically 14 very long days of intensive study in permaculture.



lol @ 14 days..

oh yeah, i'd love to learn from someone who has studied permaculture for 14 days!

pffft...
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Those without land or money: you mean like the thousands of wwoofers that go to permaculture farms for the summer?

Sepp Holzer charges $200 per day to be on his farm: Yeah, and remember the time you wanted to learn about buddhism, rather than visiting with local buddhists, you sent an email to the dali lama saying "I'll be in nepal on tuesday. Can you get tuesday off to teach me what this buddhism stuff is all about?"

When you go to Sepp's place and shell out $200 you can take all the food and seed off of his land that you can carry. Probably worth more than $200.

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4019
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  57
Moving this one ahead. The other day, I read the --- Eco Witch Hunt --- link---- http://www.permies.com/t/1588/community/eco-witch-hunt

This thread and that one are related. I read all of this one today. ------ I'm not going to give myself a number on Paul's scale, but I'm doing much better than average. I've only recently begun producing my own food in any quantity, but my recycling and conversion of many others to reusing building materials cancels that many times over. Thousands of people have bought used building materials from me. Hundreds gather free firewood, plants and other stuff. Several people have become full time recyclers after first being my customer or relative. I've done some work to enforce bans on certain items in several landfills and to close down illegal dumps. The Minister Of The Environment showed up personally at a job site in January, to pick up a video that I made, which showed damning evidence against a major polluter. Legal wranglings are ongoing, but they (the guilty party) stopped what they were doing once they realized just how caught they were.

Paul's scale is heavily slanted toward food, as would be expected on this sort of forum. My personal scale has more to do with total environmental footprint and my affect on the footprints of others. Some of how I affect how others behave has come from me supplying them with reclaimed resources, some has come from educating them, with cost savings being the motivating goal, and finally, I have cost the bad guys massive amounts of money and caused some change in behavior as a result. I expect this part of my contribution to increase. I used to do this stuff covertly, but was recently outed by a loose lipped bureaucrat(not the Minister Of The Environment, someone much lower on the food chain blabbed to a colleague who is related to a polluter) . Now that I've been exposed, it's time to start a YouTube channel concerning local environmental issues.

If this new venture goes half as far as I hope it will, it will place me near the top of the Dale's Eco Scale. People who seriously mess with society's worst environmental offenders and cost them buckets of money, get to start out at #5 on my scale.


QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
Bob Louis


Joined: May 22, 2013
Posts: 47
Location: S.W. Washington State
Well, firstly, anyone who breaks out of level zero is doing better than the average.

================================

I have level three covered without even having a garden (if you don't count my 206 shiitake logs).

I'm surely some level six.

I hope I have some level eight in me.

================================

Now, with all that, I, with all the good intentions, loaded up on CFLs years ago when the next county over's PUD offered them for $2 each. I'm still using from that cache. I have found much the same results in my own experience with them as Paul reported. Should I shitcan them before they quit working or get what use is left in them (at least before I go off the grid next spring as I presently am planning)?

It's hard to find much linearity in the levels as they could apply to this individual. It could just be my hurky jerky style. But then, I am untreated ADHD and an OCD hoarder of anything that could still have a use to justify its initial creation/resource load.

At 66, and with 37 years of being spoiled by being on the grid (blame my ex-wife), this is going to be a big adjustment for me. I will make my footprint even smaller than it is now, after I burn a little diesel to make some boards from salvage and/or sustainably gathered logs (one tree out of 30 was a living tree, and it came down because it shared a stump with a dead tree). I am going to use whatever resources, financial and practical, to aid my immediate intentional community to Holzerize and Fukuokize themselves and their land base.

================================

(What's Stamets doing on that list, with all his Disneyesque intellectual property defense and corporate relations? We can fix the world his way if he gets his piece of the action. {Sorry, but that's just the way it looks to this reporter [and I borrowed and read his books, and have bought from his catalog.]})


"If we use our minds in a clear coherent manner, we will not accept the unacceptable."
~John Trudell
John Elliott
pollinator

Joined: May 08, 2013
Posts: 2038
Location: Augusta, GA
    
  64
Bob Louis wrote:
(What's Stamets doing on that list, with all his Disneyesque intellectual property defense and corporate relations? We can fix the world his way if he gets his piece of the action. {Sorry, but that's just the way it looks to this reporter [and I borrowed and read his books, and have bought from his catalog.]})



You noticed that too, did you?
Bob Louis


Joined: May 22, 2013
Posts: 47
Location: S.W. Washington State
Someone who would make my list, in the vein of Masanobu Fukuoka, would be Edward H. Falkner, author of Plowman's Folly, published in 1943. Their life stories, if of slightly different eras, were somewhat parallel.
wayne stephen
steward

Joined: Mar 11, 2012
Posts: 1735
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
    
  92
Elia Charalambides says :

"1: Not belittling or shaming or being intolerant in any way of people that are levels below you. All that does in the end is push people away. Elitism is obnoxious"

I understand Paul Wheatons Eco-Scale a bit differently . I would say :

1 : Not belittling or shaming or being intolerant in any way of people that are levels below you . Sepp Holzer is the Elitest of the Elite . Constructive elitism being the whole point of having an eco-scale.


Permaculture is CPR for the planet !


wayne fajkus


Joined: Jun 07, 2014
Posts: 199
As I read the OP, brave new world came to mind. There were 3-4 classes of people, engineered in a DNA lab. Using that to describe this:

Level 3 people are happy cause they can look down at level 2 people and say " I eat organic and they don't. This makes be better, so I feel better about my self"

Level 2 are happy cause they look down at level one cause the 2s use cloth bags made in china and level one uses plastic.

Level one is happy cause they are so stupid that they don't know people are talking about them.
 
 
subject: The Wheaton Eco Scale
 
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