How does your plate affect the planet?

Examining diet, permaculture, and their environmental effects in response to

BCLA’s Climate Action Week

By, Rachael Bradshaw (Student Librarian)


On September 23-29 of this year, the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) is hosting Climate Action Week, a call to action for all BC libraries and those who attend them to take decisive and concrete actions to address the climate emergency which we are all facing. In response to this call, Woodward Library has curated a variety of resources focusing on how our diets and food systems affect the planet and how these systems can be addressed by alternatives such as permaculture.


What is permaculture?

The term “permaculture” is a portmanteau of both “permanent + agriculture” and “permanent + culture” that was coined by Dr. Bill Mollison, a researcher and scientist from Australia’s University of Tasmania. This term represents “the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way” [1]. In other words, permaculture is a call and method for us to model our own food and other resource systems off of the systems that occur naturally in the environments around us, integrating our systems into nature rather than creating systems counter to it.


While this sounds like a lofty goal, it can be overwhelming to think about in practice, especially for those of us who are not directly involved in agriculture or resource management. You may be wondering, can the way that I interact with the food system really make a difference? While systematic changes are certainly necessary and beyond the scope of the individual, collective action to make change is something in which individuals can and should take part to induce the larger, more powerful corporations, governments, and social systems around us to make actionable changes that can address climate change. Small actions and collective movements, while small parts of the whole of climate change responses, are nonetheless extremely important.


So how can I learn more?

The resources listed in this section have been crafted and curated by Woodward librarians to provide you with information about food systems, permaculture, and their affects on the environment around us.


New LibGuide: Climate Action Week 

We have created a brand new LibGuide that addresses the topics raised by Climate Action Week, including a “Food Systems” page that directly addresses food, diet, and climate change. This page contains resources including open access food and climate change-related reports from international agencies such as the United Nations, Indigenous reports and organizations dedicated to addressing climate change through sustainable food systems, and some recommended streaming films and books on this topic. All of the resources on this page are available to UBC students and faculty, so check them out! Here are a few suggestions from the guide:


Streaming Films:

Film cover

  • Eating Our Way to Extinction: This film “takes audiences on a cinematic journey around the world, from the depths of the Amazon rainforests to the Taiwanese Mountains, the Mongolian desert, the US Dust Bowl, the Norwegian Fjords and the Scottish coastlines, telling the story of our planet through shocking testimonials, poignant accounts from Indigenous people most affected by our ever-changing planet, globally renowned figures and leading scientists.”
  • Kiss the Ground: This documentary film “presents the story of “a revolutionary group of activists, scientists, farmers, and politicians [who] band together in a global movement of “Regenerative Agriculture” that could balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world.”


To see the rest of these great resources, be sure to check out the guide!


Great Reads Shelf Display

This week, the Great Reads Shelf (located right next to the front door of Woodward Library) is dedicated to climate action-related books, including some about permaculture and food systems. Stop into the library to see some of the great titles available for borrowing, including the following:


Image of display case with permaculture exhibit featuring its two creators, Elizabeth and Jessica

Thank you to Elizabeth and Jessica for their hard work on this permaculture display!


 Display Case on Permaculture

Curious to learn more about what permaculture means in practice? Check out our display case, located   to the right of the main library entrance next to the Memorial Room. This display outlines what permaculture is, how it would look in a real-world scenario, and some more great books related to the subject. Stop by and check it out!





Interactive Whiteboard: What actions are you taking to address climate change?

What actions are you taking to combat climate change? What else do you want to do? Share your ideas or come gather some inspiration with our interactive whiteboard, located just past the circulation desk.


[1] Permaculture Research Institute. (n.d.). What is permaculture?