Drinking a plastic bag, and time to get dirty…

Hi, this is Geoff.

We’ve hit a milestone.

With today’s Friday Five, we turn 50 — celebration! (Sorry, I’m a big rugby fan)

The 50th edition of the Friday Five, incredible. Many thanks to all of you for tuning in, for your feedback, and for helping to make this what it is.

With no further ado…

I dare you (and me!): Who among us would dare take a plastic bag, cut it up, dissolve it in water and….drink it? Apparently, Kevin Kumala of Avani Eco would, and does. Avani makes a cassava-based eco-bag that is compostable, biodegradable, claims zero toxicity, and, apparently, is drinkable. From a permaculture perspective, we obviously hope this doesn’t lead to massive monoculture production just to create a plastic bag; nevertheless, the idea is innovative, and represents a giant leap forward from current petroleum-based packaging.

People care: Permaculture is about far more than great farms, food forests, and being eco-friendly. Bill always emphasized “care of people” (people care) as one of its 3 foundational ethics. In light of the refugee crisis gripping the world, this story really made my day: “Staffed entirely by refugees, the shop’s aim is to offer jobs and barista training to refugees and spread awareness about the plight of refugees in this country. Located in Berkeley, California, 1951 opened its doors earlier this year.” Absolutely beautiful profile of a great company aiming to do great things.

Going off-grid: There seems to be increasing interest in crafting your own path, living your own lifestyle, and not getting caught up in the endless treadmill of debt-pay-debt-pay: “Many people dream of living off the grid, rent-free — and a select few have turned that dream into a reality. It takes more than just a stack of solar panels and a tiny house though – you need a plan that provides for all of the necessities of daily life. If you’ve ever wanted to make the leap to off-grid living but weren’t sure where to start, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to transitioning to a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.” A decent overview with some gorgeous pics of folks dreaming it, planning it, then living it.

Get dirty: If you need one more reason to learn permaculture, head outside, and get dirty — whether on a farm, rooftop garden, urban backyard food forest, or even your windowsill — here you go: “a lack of early childhood exposure to a diversity of germs can keep the immune system underdeveloped and more likely to overreact to things that are harmless — resulting in allergies and asthma.” Those interested in reading the original peer-reviewed, scientific paper examining the superior health of farm-raised Amish children published in the New England Journal of Medicine can do so here. The immunity of the natural farming world is the ultimate health insurance, my prediction is permaculture farm children will even go past the Amish. For those skeptical, an older feature (2009) from the New York Times makes a similar point, specifically with respect to babies and toddlers. So for those of us with young families, perhaps it’s time to re-think our relationship to dirt?

In case you missed it: A few interesting pieces this week from our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute:

If you enjoy these posts, be sure to bookmark the site as several new articles go up weekly, or check out thousands of other past articles, here.  

That’s it for the Friday Five.

Again, if you have something to share with respect to the Friday Five, share your comments and thoughts below. This way, our entire community can benefit from your insights, and join the discussion.

Cheers, and have a great weekend

Your friend,


2017-03-17T22:10:20+00:00 Blog|9 Comments
  • Kate Martignier

    Hi Geoff, I have never commented here but had to thank you for the link to the cassava based eco-bag.

    We butcher our own meat and freeze it in large quantities and I have been hunting for an alternative to plastic packaging. (I tried banana leaves — not so good.) I’m hoping the cassava based bags might solve my challenge.

    Really enjoy the Friday Fives, thank you for all you do.



    • Thanks for the comment @katemartignier:disqus. I always appreciate feedback.

  • Eugene Fueyo

    I read a study done with elderly mice where they fed them “soil bacteria” and improved there ability to learn mazes to the level of young mice while there friends who didn’t get soil bacteria showed the mouse equivalent of memory loss/dementia that is considered “normal” aging. I have had a life long fascination with centenarians and I noticed years ago that most were gardeners or farmers.

  • Sean Gleeson

    G’day everyone, I love receiving my Friday Fives, I usually just click on the links on the email but today I’ve followed Geoff’s tip & am enjoying the blog version. I wanted to share this one but it may already have been posted.www.ecowatch.com/samso-worlds…island-is-a-beacon-for-1881905310.html It’s about Samso Island in Denmark which uses 100% renewable energy.
    There’s also a neighbourhood on the Sunshine Coast here in Australia that grows food on it’s verges. Check out urbanfoodstreet.com



    • Thanks for chiming in @disqus_k7LEoijPUW:disqus.

  • Margaret Reda

    This is a article about how trees can help produce clouds and atmospheric

  • Erin S. Bailey

    One of my friends is a chemistry prof who did the research to make the compostable bags that a major chip company used for their products only briefly because the public did not like the loud crinkles the bag made. He told me that it would not compost in a regular home compost pile, that it needed one of industrial size to truly compost. So I am leery of the claim for plastic made from vegetation because most research is funded by big business and at least in this county, are able to “lie” to the public by using words that do not have strict definitions in their advertising.

  • sidwheeler

    On the subject of dirt/bacteria/immune systems – I think we’ve had a quadruple whammy of a society influenced by the paranoid marketing of ‘kills 99.9%’, increased antibiotic use, a removal of live foods from our diets (due to canning etc) and vastly increased refined sugar intake (which pathogens love) . Fermented foods impact on gut health, but our paranoia about food safety has meant they’ve just not been a common feature in our diets. Hopefully all this is slowly changing. The lactobacillus and acidiophillus bacteria present in lacto-fermented produce can survive stomach acid and out compete pathogenic bacteria in the intestines. This is likely to have a dramatic effect on the human ‘biome’ esp regards inflammatory responses. If not, there’s always the (slightly unsavoury) prospect of faecal transplants – inoculating the intestines of those with a compromised biome via poo from healthy individuals. Genetically we provide a home to vastly more bacterial DNA than human DNA – which poses the question, what are we? This is an amazing area of research – check out ‘Missing Microbes’ whilst watching your Kilner jars bubble 🙂

  • Greg

    “Earthing” – absolute nonsense, unfortunately, because wouldn’t it be cool if it were true?

    Mercola (the reference used by that post on PN) is a peddler of pseudoscience and outright falsehoods. The article on Mercola’s site contains no references to scientific papers or studies.

    Then the post refers to “spirituality”.

    Pseudo-science, and woo-woo talk … two things that the permaculture community has been warned pushes away anybody with even a basic education in science, not to mention the scientists, lawyers, engineers, researchers, and politicians that we really need on our side.

    I know an MD who’s coming to a PDC soon… I cringe whenever I see that the PC community is still embracing this stuff, because he’s going to throw away most of what PC claims if it’s mixed in with this garbage.