The fifth permaculture principle is use and value renewable resources and services. I know what you’re thinking, solar power! but it is so much more than that.
We always try to make the most of our renewable reources here on the homestead for a few reasons. Anything we can gather for free obviously saves us money and allows for more to get done. Using renewble reources is good for the environment and for our property. Use what we have here, within reason, and it will always be here. If you learn to use something that is always available, you never have to worry about going without. Any part of anything we build that was collected rather than bought is much more interesting and/or beautiful.
Cutting our own trees for lumber and firewood is renewable because we encourage the growth of healthy, new trees. We also plant more trees and use any of the already dead, fallen trees rather than cutting living trees. We have enough trees to harvest enough firewood each year with depleating our trees.
Composting is an excellent renewable resource. Collect up your food scraps, old newspapers, leaves, egg shells, coffee grounds, sticks, whatever other organic matter you have laying around and turn it into plant food. Then grow healthy plants and eat the healthy food you have grown for yourself. Now you are healthy and strong and your energy is a renewable resource in itself.
Garbage can also be an amazing renewable resource. Old tires can be used for everything from planters to houses. Old box springs or camp chairs can be used as trellises. Old coffee cups can be seed starters. Old steel drums can be grills. And the list goes on.
At any point in time, look around you. Anyting you see is a potential resource with a little creativity. If the resources you choose are renewable, you are all set for a long time. And well on your way to principle #6. Produce no waste.
For more info about renewable resources, look here: