There are a few names that come to mind when learning about permaculture. Bill Mollison, of course, as “father of permaculture,” Sepp Holzer, being the Austrian author of Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, and then there’s Paul Wheaton, the father of permies.com. He is arrogant in a way which is quite understandable, as he developed what he touts as the largest website dedicated to permaculture, which has oodles of information on the subject. We have been listening to podcasts with Paul Wheaton lately, and enjoying and learning, of course. There is one specific topic that he discusses that I’d like to share with you; that is “The Wheaton Eco-Scale.”
It goes like this:
On Eco-level 0, there are 6 billion people.
On Eco-level 1, there are 1 billion people.
On Eco-level 2, there are 100 million people.
On Eco-level 3, there are 10 million people, and so on an so forth, in a logarithmic scale. Oh yeah, level 9 has 10 people, and level 10 is Sepp Holzer. So, whatever level you are on, you believe that everyone on a level lower is screwing up the planet royally. You also notice that people 1 level ahead of you are cool, and people 2 levels ahead of you are awesome! But then, someone 3 levels ahead of you is probably crazy, and someone 4 or more levels ahead of you needs to be put away for the safety of others.
For example, someone on Eco-level 3 uses reusable bags when they go grocery shopping, and they think of themselves as pretty “eco.” But someone on Eco-level 5 doesn’t even use bags at all, because they grow a lot of their own food and only go to the store for a few items at a time. The Eco-level 3 person probably thinks the Eco-level 5 person is pretty cool. Then you’ve got someone on Eco-level 7 who never eats anything that they didn’t grow themselves. To the level 3 guy, the level 7 guy probably seems like a back-woods hippie-freak.
So, as we learn and progress in our endeavors towards more sustainable lifestyles, we need to keep in mind that not everyone is on our Eco-level. We don’t want to scare anyone away with our ideas of sustainability by seeming crazy, but we also want to try to push them to the next level.
To which Eco-level do you think you belong?