Natural Dyes – The Colours of Nature

Natural Dyes – The Colours of Nature

The art of natural dyeing comprises a huge body of knowledge. Sadly, it has been fading ever since the discovery of tar-based pigments at the beginning of the 19th-Century. Natural dyeing methods and the intricate arts of natural textile design are fast becoming another relic of times gone by.

Unlike birds with their flamboyant feathery attire, human beings are not born with a naturally colourful outfit. The birthday suit varies in tone, but no matter what, it is pretty plain. We have to draw on our own ingenuity and creativity when it comes to designing our apparel.

A true game-changer in our human quest to stand out has been the discovery of how to use the colours of nature to our own advantage. The search for natural dyes is as ancient as it is universal. No matter which culture we examine, all have experimented and explored every conceivable source of pigments in their environment. Everything from shellfish to lichen, not to mention roots, barks, leaves, berries, fungi, and even flower stamens have been explored for their potential as a dye.

Body-paint

Even societies that traditionally pay little attention to clothing still use pigments to paint their bodies. Such body paints are typically obtained from ochre, chalk, and charcoal and usually used on special occasions such as rituals, healing ceremonies, or initiations.

A slightly more elaborate (and more permanent) type of body ornamentation is seen in the art of tattooing. But permanence is not necessarily always desirable. Being able to change design from time to time would certainly be nice. Certain vegetable dyes are used in this way. They last for a few days, at least, but not forever. before long they will wash off, thus leaving the ‘canvas’ clean for new designs. The best-known vegetable dye for temporary designs is Henna (Lawsonia inermis). Body painting with Henna is still widely practised in the Middle East and in Asia. It is an integral part of traditional wedding preparations.

In the West, Henna is mostly used as a popular hair dye, and nowadays also for temporary tattoos. In South America, indigenous people use Achiote (Bixa orellana), and Huito (Genipa americana), as body paint or dye.

Henna tattoo

Colour as code

But colours express more than just artful fancy. Practically all cultures associate certain colours with specific meanings. Colour is an essential key to the mysteries, which can unlock the significance of a whole complex of symbols. For example, the four directions are universally colour-coded, although different from one culture to the next. The colour encodes a whole network of associations – e.g. the East is the direction of the rising sun, of new beginnings, of birth etc. and its colour is often yellow, or white. The relevance to the topic of dyes is that the plants and materials which yield dyes have also become part of the symbol complex.

‘Show your true colours’

We still use colour in this way today, although usually in a secular context and more often than not, we are not even aware of it. We paint political parties red or blue, speak of ‘the grey (indistinguishable) masses’, or label things ‘green’, if they are eco-friendly. Different social groups still follow an unspoken dress-code – business people prefer greys, whites, beige, or dark blue, while Goths wear black. In the West, white is associated with purity, while in India, it is the colour of the dead and of ghosts.

Likewise, traditional costumes also convey much more than meets the uninitiated eye. Every piece of clothing signals a specific message informing those in the know as to the social and marital status of the wearer. This message was woven as pictographic symbols right into the fabric, or colour-coded into the design. Other items of clothing, worn only at certain times, e.g. during a hunting expedition, or for certain rituals, were covered in colour-coded protective symbols to act as spells.

Colour as a status symbol

Some natural colours are exceedingly precious due to the rarity of the substance that yields them. Royal purple is derived from molluscs, and not easy to come by. For a long time, it was a prerogative reserved for royalty to wear this colour.

Nor could an ordinary mortal afford it, given the extraordinary price tag. In Roman times (400AD) a pound of cloth dyed in royal purple costs the equivalent of $20.000! The mollusc was already endangered and very rare. And, as is often the case, the symbolic value drove up demand which in turn catapulted the price into an intergalactic orbit. As a result, the status association was reinforced.

Other colours, such as those obtained from walnut shells, or onion skins, or lichen were more easily available and widely used – despite the time-consuming process. Large amounts of plant materials had to be gathered; the linens and skeins of wool had to be prepared with a mordant to render them more absorbent and a fixative added in to fix the colour so it does not fade too quickly in subsequent washes.

The art of natural dyeing comprises a huge body of knowledge. Sadly, it has been fading ever since the discovery of tar-based pigments at the beginning of the 19th-Century. Natural dyeing methods and the intricate arts of natural textile design are fast becoming another relic of times gone by.

How to dye wool with natural materials

How to dye wool, using natural materials

Preparing the wool:

In order to prepare the yarn, it has to be gathered up into skeins and tied loosely but securely with a piece of yarn of the same material. The first step is to thoroughly wash the skeins. If you want to experiment at home, use natural wool as this is the easiest material to prepare.

All the natural oils in the wool have to be removed, so use a mild flaked natural soap, so that it will dissolve easily in hot water. Rinse the wool with several rinses of hot water to wash out all the soap.

Mordants

The washed yarn is now ready for the mordant bath. Depending on the mordant different shades of colour can be achieved using the same plant material. Commonly used mordants are alum, copper sulphate, iron sulphate, tin or chrome, which are toxic! (Keep out of reach of children!)

Due to this toxicity, some people prefer to do without. But without the mordant or the fixative the dyes are not colour-fast. They will run very easily in the next wash.

To produce a stronger colour one can ‘over-dye’ the skeins, i.e. submit them to several treatments in the dye bath. Only do this with yarn, not with finished pieces of textiles, or knitted jumpers since they will shrink in the hot dye bath.

The most commonly used mordant is Alum, which is another way of saying ‘potassium aluminium sulphate’. Sometimes the wool is subjected to several different mordants to achieve a different shade of colour.

Equipment

Dyeing does not require a whole lot of equipment, but as the mordants are toxic, it should always be done outside.

Tools:

  • large pot
  • stick, or large spoon.
  • Gloves

Set them aside as dedicated utensils for this purpose only.

Never use them for cooking after you have used them for dyeing.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz aluminium sulphate
  • 1 oz cream of tartar
  • 1 lb wool
  • Water

Method:

To mordant the wool follow this procedure:

Place the aluminium sulphate and the cream of tartar in large pot of cold water. Stir well to dissolve the powders. Once the powders are fully dissolved place the wool into pot and slowly bring the mordant bath to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour. If the wool is very fine and soft, less mordant and a shorter boiling time is sufficient.

After 1 hour, take the pot off the heat, drain and gently squeeze out the liquid. (Wear gloves!) The wool can be dyed right away, or it may be dried and stored for later use.

For the dye bath, it is usually best to use fresh plant materials, but make sure you either pick them from your own garden, or from a place where the plants are in plentiful supply.

Use about 1 lb of plant material per 1 lb of wool skeins.

Place the plant materials into a muslin bag and tie securely.

Place the dye pot on the stove, ¾ full of water.

Add the muslin bag of dye material and submerge it well.

Place the skeins of wool into the pot and slowly bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about one hour.

Stir occasionally.

After an hour, turn off the heat, but leave the skeins in the water until it is cold, or when you deem the colour to be just right. Lift out the skeins (a pair of metal tongues will help), and rinse in water of the same temperature.

When the water runs clear, you can hang the skeins up to dry. (A suspended rod will do fine)

Fix a light weight to the bottom of each skein to prevent crinkling.

CAUTION: Mordants are mineral based substances that are highly toxic. Such substances must be handled with due care. Wastes must be discarded properly. Wear protective clothing (especially gloves) and avoid inhaling the fumes. Dyeing should preferably take place outside.

The information given here is for educational purposes only.

Some common dye plants:

Plant

Part

Colour

Mordant

Madder (Rubia tinctorum)

roots

deep red

alum

Woad (Isatis tinctoria)

leaves

blue,

Somewhat complicated process involving a real chemical cocktail. Woad (Indigo) dyes by oxidation, the trick is to get the dye bath right. Indigo is a fast dye that fades very little in sunlight or in washing.

Weld (Reseda luteola)

whole plant

lemon yellow,

alum

Blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus)

berries

shades of blue and purple,

alum

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

berries, leaves

purple and violets green

alum

Blackberries (Rubus fructicosus)

shoots berries

black/grey blue//grey

iron alum

Bracken (Pteris aquiline)

young shoots roots

yellow/greens orange/yellow

alum

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

shoots

olive/yellow

alum

Fig (Ficus carica)

leaves

lemon yellow

alum

Birch (Betula alba)

leaves

yellow

alum

Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium)

leaves

yellow

alum

Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

whole plant

yellow

alum

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

flowers

yellow

alum

Canadian Golden Rod (Solidago Canadensis)

flowers

golden yellow

chrome

Pine (Pinus sp.)

cones

orange/yellow browns

alum iron

Onion (Allium cepa)

skins

golden brown

alum

Walnut (Juglans regia)

shells

pinkish browns

no mordant

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

rhizome

yellow

no mordant

Gardening Jobs in March

Gardening Jobs in March

seeds and Gardening Jobs in March

March is the busy season in the garden. As soon as the sun comes out, and it is warm (and dry) enough to be outside, every gardener itches to get their hands into the dirt again. But where to start?

Preparing the vegetable beds

Once the ground is no longer frozen, nor too wet, you can start preparing the beds.

Remove the weeds early on (especially perennial or biennial ones), which will make it less troublesome to keep on top of the weeding later on in the season.

If you haven’t done it yet, continue deadheading and clearing the garden, but beware that butterflies often overwinter on the old stalks of nettles and such (nettles support some 40 species of insects and butterflies!) Fresh, young nettles also make a wonderful early wild vegetable, so unless they are really in your way or growing in the vegetable beds, maybe consider leaving them standing. You might find them quite useful!

Dig in plenty of good homegrown compost into the vegetable plots and prepare the soil to get a fine crumb. This will make it easy for your seedlings to break through the crust.

What to sow in March

What you can sow in March will largely depend on your growing zone. In milder climes, it is possible to sow hardier, early veggies out in the open in March. More frost-sensitive plants do best when grown under cover, or in the cold frame. In colder your growing zone the more important it is to start your seeds indoors early, on the window sill. That way, they will get a bit of a boost. They will have developed into little plants that are more resilient than seedlings by the time you will plant them out. And their growing season is that much longer. For warmth-loving plants like tomatoes and zucchinis, early indoor cultivation is a must. Sow them about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost.

Outdoors

Onion sets can be planted out in March. Other hardy veggies that can be sown directly into the well-prepared beds from mid-March include beetroots, Swiss chard and lettuce, (also Asian lettuce) and peas as well as rocket, radishes, and nasturtiums. By the end of March/beginning of April, the soil should be warm enough to plant out Jerusalem artichokes.

Indoors or under cover

You can sow tomatoes, peppers and fennel, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage (early varieties), Savoy cabbage, Malabar spinach (late March), New Zealand spinach, carrots, autumn leeks, and celery either in the cold frame or indoors. Tomatoes, fennel and pepper are always best started indoors in an environment of about 20°C.

Make sure to open up the cold frame on sunny days so it does not get too hot under the glass. The plants need air and the untimely heat would promote early bolting (or withering).

Whatever you do, make sure your seedlings don’t dry out once you have sown them. Water is their life-blood. They cannot grow without it.

Bulbs and Perennials

March is the perfect time to plant summer flowering bulbs such as irises or dahlias, as well as summer and autumn flowering perennials.

Happy Gardening!

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies!

Gardening Jobs in February

Gardening Jobs in February

What kind of gardening jobs are there to do in February?

If your fingers are itching and you can’t wait to get your hands back into the soil, here is what you can do, even as early as February. (At least if you live in the northern hemisphere and are living in a growing zone 7-8. Every climate zone is different and you may also have a micro-climate, so take this as general advice – no guarantees, rather than as gospel truth.

Although it is still winter and the weather has been pretty wild and stormy, I have spotted the first snowdrops and even the first Winter Aconite! They are such a welcome sight – the first signs that let you know beyond doubt that although there may still be snow around and temperatures are far from balmy – spring is definitely on the way.

The sight of these has been a kind of floral wake up call. My fingers have been itching ever since and I feel restless, yearning to get active in the garden. But where to start, and what to do? After all, it is still too cold for sowing most of my summer crop plants outside.

Crocus

(Crocus vernus)

The spring crocus is one of the most cherished spring flowers. Its flowers come in many different colors and to me, they are reminiscent of Easter Eggs – although Easter is still a long way away. It is the shape of the balloon-like flowers that create this association in my mind. Like the other early flowering plants, it too makes the most of dry sunny weather, to attract early pollinators, but close their flowers to protect their delicate parts as soon as cold or rainy weather is on the way.

Winter Aconite

(Eranthis hyemalis)

Like miniature suns, these golden stars warm the heart in early spring. Daringly, they open up fully to the first warming rays of the sun. But they are not stupid. As soon as the sky clouds over, they fold up their petals to keep their stamens and stigma protected and warm. While heart-warming and pretty to behold, it is good to remember that this is a Ranunculus species and all of its parts are poisonous.

Cyclamen

(Cyclamen coum)

Cyclamens are so cute! Their pink little flowers remind me of piglets, with the snout pointing down and their ears (petals) flying in the wind, so to speak. The dainty flowers appear to be ‘inside-out’, seemingly exposing their pollinating parts. But that isn’t actually the case. Their delicate stamens and sepals are sheltered inside the ‘snout’, which forms a tubular structure that protects them against the elements. 

Snowdrops

(Galanthus nivalis) 

These tender little flowers are the most daring of all! Long before other flowers wake up, this one has sent its spear-like flowers up, even piercing the snow, if necessary. Its bell-like dangles tenuously on the stem, protecting itself from the elements by facing the earth, rather than the sky, its petals sheltering the stamen and stigma. Snowdrops are heralds of hope at a time when winter is still raging. The message is clear. It’s early days yet, but spring IS on the way. Life will return…soon.

Indoor Gardening

Start some long-season plants indoors

At this time of the year, my house turns into a potting shed. I am not suggesting you should do this, too. Maybe you are better organized. Maybe you have a greenhouse or a heated cold frame or something like that, where you can start the earliest seeds, protected from the cold.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, as I do, the growing season is limited. To extend it as far as possible, start off long-season plants, like chili peppers or aubergines, by sowing them early indoors.

All you need are some starter trays and some soil. It is best to use special sterile starter soil that is not too heavy with nutrients. The reason why you want it to be sterile is so that your tender seedlings do not have to compete for nutrients. This is even more of an issue if the seeds you are sowing are slow to sprout.

Gardening shops sell both, the potting mix for starting seeds as well as the seedling starter trays. While they make things easier and often come with a tray to put them on as well as a lid to keep moisture in, you don’t really need them. You can improvise by recycling your yogurt pots, or other plastic containers. You can even use the cardboard tube of your toilet rolls. These are especially good for tender plants that develop long, fragile roots, such as carrots.

Give your warmth-loving, long-season plants a boost by starting them off 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost in your region. Cover the pots with plastic and keep the soil moist. Place them in a bright, warm spot and you should see the first seedlings pop up soon. Use a spray can only to water the seedlings until they are robust enough to handle a watering can. Once there is no more danger of frost and soil temperatures have risen to about 15°C/60°F you can begin to harden your ‘babies’ off before transferring them to their permanent spots.

In the garden

Once the snow has melted and the soil has dried off, it is time to get busy preparing the beds. Cut back dead plants if you didn’t do it in the fall (I keep most things standing through the winter to help the wildlife). Loosen the soil and get rid of the invasive weeds. (Some of those may well be edible!) Mix in some fresh compost. Beds that you are not going to use immediately should be mulched. Let the soil settle until it is warm enough to transfer your first seedlings or to sow directly into the prepared bed.

The earliest crops that can be sown directly into the soil include peas, early varieties of radish, parsley, spinach, and carrots, as well as lettuce, and onions sets. If you are worried about late frost, start them in a cold frame until the soil has warmed to about 15°C.

Carrots and parsley can be slow to sprout. You might want to start them in a dish of wet sand. Leave the dish in the cold for about a week, then take it indoors and you should see them sprout pretty quickly. The most important thing to know about sowing carrots and root parsley is that they like loose and even soil. So make sure their permanent spot is well prepared. You can do this by mixing sand and garden soil and sifting both to create a nice light soil.

By the end of February, you can start to sprout your spuds. For best results use seed potatoes. Lay them out in egg cartons on the windowsill until they start to sprout. Turn them so that the side with the most ‘eyes’ is face up. Let them sprout for 5-6 weeks, before planting them out.

For other veggies, it is best to delay sowing until early March, if you can wait that long.

Happy gardening!

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies!

Gardening Jobs in January

Gardening Jobs in January

Winter is a trying period for gardeners. At the latest, by the middle of the month, they are itching to do SOMETHING in the garden! But the life-juices are dormant beneath the surface, the ground is frozen and covered in snow. There isn’t a lot to do. But there is always something.

Prepping

 

Cleaning up the Tool Shed

You might also want to use the quiet time to organize the tool shed, and do some maintenance work. Make a note of materials you might need for projects you might be planning for later in the spring.

Planning the garden

Use the quiet time of the year to dream and prepare for the season ahead. What do you want to grow and where? Survey and organize your seed library and make a plan: What would you like to grow this year? What worked well last year? Maybe there are some new varieties you would like to try? Check your favorite seed suppliers and get your order in early.

Start planning – find seeds at Seeds Now

Or join the Seed Exchange network: https://exchange.seedsavers.org/

For impatient gardeners

If you are really impatient and have a frost-free cold frame, you can start some early varieties of lettuce, kohlrabi, and radishes. Or, if you don’t have a cold frame, why not build one?

If you live in a cold climate zone and want to grow species that normally grow in much warmer regions, such as aubergines or peppers, you could start them off early. A corner in the basement could be modified and fitted with a grow light. Neutral white light LED strips will work well.

Bird Feeders

Finally, don’t forget the birds. They happily visit your feeder. It is a great joy to watch them, and attracting them to your garden will also help you later when they forage for insect larvae.

Happy gardening!

Making Birdseed Feeders

Making Birdseed Feeders

How to make Birdseed Feeders

During the winter, birds don’t always find enough food. To help them through these times of scarcity, why not offer them some ‘birdseed feeders’. They are really easy to make and much appreciated. All you need is birdseed (you can use pre-packed supplies, or mix your own, using a blend of edible seeds, nuts, and dried fruit, such as sunflower seeds, buckwheat, oats, millet, linseed, wheat, cracked peanuts or hazelnuts, raisins, etc, some hardened vegetable fat, suet or tallow.

Birdseed Cookies

To make ‘Birdseed cookies’ you can use Christmas cookie cutters.

Materials:

  • 250g of hardened coconut fat
  • 500g of birdseed mix
  • string

Method:

  • Melt the fat in a saucepan
  • pour in the seed mixture until the fat is almost completely saturated
  • Stir well.
  • Allow the mixture to cool until it hardens to the consistency of peanut butter.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper and arrange your cookie cutters or shapes
  • Now you can spread the seed mixture into the cookie cutter with a spoon or spatula
  • Use a toothpick to poke a hole through which you can thread the string once the cookie has completely hardened.

 

birdseed

Flowerpot feeders

These are also easy to make. You’ll need small terracotta flowerpots with a hole in the bottom

Materials

  • 250g birdseed mixture
  • 500g suet or hardened coconut butter
  • a swig of sunflower oil
  • small flowerpots
  • forked twigs
  • string

Method

Take a forked twig and pull the straight end through the bottom of the flowerpot.

Fasten with a piece of string and pull the string ends through the hole as a hanger for the flower pot.

I used a second, short twig to fasten it securely. The forked end of the stick should stick out at the open end of the pot.

Make the seed mixture as before, but add a little swig of sunflower oil (not too much!) to keep the seed mixture a little bit softer.

Allow the mixture to cool until it has the consistency of peanut butter.

Fill the pot with the fat/seed paste and allow it to harden some more so that it won’t drip out of the pot.

Now find a tree or better still, a bush that is not accessible to cats (e.g. hawthorn tree or elderflower tree) to hang your ornaments and flowerpot feeders.

flowerpot feeder

Earth Charter Initiative

Earth Charter Initiative

Earth Charter Initiative

When I first came across the Earth Charter Initiative in 2004, I was elated to find a worldwide network of hundreds and thousands of people working as individuals, or grassroots organizations and NGOs, all sharing a common vision: appealing to the highest common denominators and values of our shared humanity to draw up a charter that could serve as a guideline for a sustainable, just and peaceful future.

At a time when major changes in how we think and live are urgently needed, the Earth Charter challenges us to examine our values and to choose a better way. It calls on us to search for common ground in the midst of our diversity and to embrace a new ethical vision that is shared by growing numbers of people in many nations and cultures throughout the world.

I feel that initiatives like this, and this one especially, are important and deserve to be spread, far and wide, so that its spirit takes wings and inspires us to try harder and do more to save our beautiful home planet, I am publishing it here in full.

What is the Earth Charter?

The Earth Charter is a declaration of 16 fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all peoples a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the larger living world. It is an expression of hope and a call to help create a global partnership at a critical juncture in history.

The principles are grounded in the four pillars of Respect and Care for the Community of Life, Ecological Integrity, social and Economic Justice, and Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace.

The Earth Charter

 

Preamble

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Earth, Our Home

Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life’s evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.

The Global Situation

The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in the human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable.

The Challenges Ahead

The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.

Universal Responsibility

To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are linked. Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.

We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope, we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed.

Respect and care for the community of life

Respect and care for the Community of Life

Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.

  1. Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings.
  2. Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and in the intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual potential of humanity.

Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion, and love.

  1. Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty to prevent environmental harm and to protect the rights of people.
  2. Affirm that with increased freedom, knowledge, and power comes increased responsibility to promote the common good.

Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful.

  1. Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms and provide everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full potential.
  2. Promote social and economic justice, enabling all to achieve a secure and meaningful livelihood that is ecologically responsible.

Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations.

  1. Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations.
  2. Transmit to future generations the values, traditions, and institutions that support the long-term flourishing of Earth’s human and ecological communities. In order to fulfill these four broad commitments. it is necessary to: (continue to Pillar II).

Ecological Integrity

Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.

  1. Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make environmental conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives.
  2. Establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere reserves, including wild lands and marine areas, to protect Earth’s life support systems, maintain biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage.
  3. Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.
  4. Control and eradicate non-native or genetically modified organisms harmful to native species and the environment, and prevent the introduction of such harmful organisms.
  5. Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems.
  6. Manage the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways that minimize depletion and cause no serious environmental damage.

Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.

  1. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
  2. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
  3. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long-distance, and global consequences of human activities.
  4. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
  5. Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.

Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.

  1. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems.
  2. Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
  3. Promote the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies.
  4. Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards.
  5. Ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction.
  6. Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world.

Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.

  1. Support international scientific and technical cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations.
  2. Recognize and preserve traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being.
  3. Ensure that information of vital importance to human health and environmental protection, including genetic information, remains available in the public domain.

Social and Economic Justice

Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative.

  1. Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required.
  2. Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves.
  3. Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.

Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.

  1. Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations.
  2. Enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and social resources of developing nations, and relieve them of onerous international debt.
  3. Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection, and progressive labor standards.
  4. Require multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their activities.

Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity.

  1. Secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against them.
  2. Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision-makers, leaders, and beneficiaries.
  3. Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family members.

Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.

  1. Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic, or social origin.
  2. Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands, and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods.
  3. Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.
  4. Protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and spiritual significance.

Democracy, Non-Violence, and Peace

Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice.

  1. Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental matters and all development plans and activities which are likely to affect them or in which they have an interest.
  2. Support local, regional, and global civil society, and promote the meaningful participation of all interested individuals and organizations in decision making.
  3. Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, association, and dissent.
  4. Institute effective and efficient access to administrative and independent judicial procedures, including remedies and redress for environmental harm and the threat of such harm.
  5. Eliminate corruption in all public and private institutions.
  6. Strengthen local communities, enabling them to care for their environments, and assign environmental responsibilities to the levels of government where they can be carried out most effectively.

Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.

  1. Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development.
  2. Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education.
  3. Enhance the role of the mass media in raising awareness of ecological and social challenges.
  4. Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable living.

Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.

  1. Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from suffering.
  2. Protect wild animals from methods of hunting, trapping, and fishing that cause extreme, prolonged, or avoidable suffering.
  3. Avoid or eliminate to the full extent possible the taking or destruction of non-targeted species.

Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace.

  1. Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation among all peoples and within and among nations.
  2. Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and other disputes.
  3. Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration.
  4. Eliminate nuclear, biological, and toxic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
  5. Ensure that the use of orbital and outer space supports environmental protection and peace.
  6. Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are part.

On the earth charter website, the earth charter is available for download in different languages. There are also a number of other educational materials available to all who wish to share its message. 

 

Visit the Earth Charter Initiative online at https://earthcharter.org/

Get involved https://earthcharter.org/get-involved/https://earthcharter.org/get-involved/

Educational Ressources https://earthcharter.org/education-sustainable-development/

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