Sustainable Agriculture: How to Save the Planet with Plants
Almost half a century ago, 20 million Americans united in rallies across the country to advocate for our planet. These impassioned protestors condemned oil spills, industrial pollution, deforestation, toxic dumping, and other environmental catastrophes that had become commonplace by the late 1960s.
And it was kind of a big deal.
In fact, the demonstration made such an impact that it actually led to the creation of both Earth Day and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Just two decades later, 200 million people from 141 different countries came together to celebrate Earth Day as a global holiday. And the movement continued to grow with each passing year.
Earth Day is now widely recognized as a time to reflect on our responsibility to protect our planet through eco-friendly habits, such as recycling and composting, switching to more energy-efficient technologies, and — as you’ll see in this post — practicing sustainable gardening.
The Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture
Consider the following positive changes you can achieve in the world by simply growing a few fruits and vegetables.
“Seed-to-Plate” Reduces Packaging Waste
Containers and packaging alone make up more than 23 percent of the material reaching landfills in the U.S. And you know what often comes in containers and packaging?
The exception is the food you grow at home. After all, when you’re picking from plants in a garden that’s just steps away you have no need for clamshell cases or produce bags.
As a result, gardening sustainably minimizes the amount of food packaging you use — which happens to be quite appropriate for the theme of Earth Day 2018: mobilizing the world to end plastic pollution.
Hyper-Local Food Cuts Carbon Emissions
Did you know that the average prepared meal in the U.S. contains ingredients from at least five other countries? Crazy, right?
To state the obvious, all those ingredients must be transported. And the planes, ships, and trucks doing the job pump a lot of CO2 into our air.
In fact, about eight percent of a typical American’s carbon footprint comes from food alone. But if you grow even 20 percent of your food, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by up to 68 lbs. of CO2 per year.
Plus — as you may remember from middle school biology — plants filter CO2 and contaminants from the air. Your garden literally helps you breathe a little easier!
Pro tip: Buying food from local farms also offers the sustainability benefits above. So, whatever you don’t grow, consider sourcing from a farmers market or CSA.
3 Other Ways You Can Help Grow a Healthier Planet
Already growing your own food? Give yourself a high five. Then, take your sustainability skills a step further with these additional ideas:
1. Practice Natural Pest Control
You may know that synthetic pesticides can be harmful to more than just pests, potentially poisoning soil, water, plants, and a host of beneficial organisms, including bees and birds.
So, when possible, opt for the more eco-friendly approach: integrated pest management (IPM).
As a strategic combination of various control methods — such as attracting predatory insects and growing pest-repellent crops — IPM helps you create a healthy, balanced garden ecosystem that naturally resists bad bugs and other problems.
Basically, it’s better for both your plants and the planet.
2. Feed and Protect Pollinators
We’ve been losing millions of bees over the last few decades, in part because of the aforementioned pesticides. And that’s a problem since — through pollination — bees contribute up to a third of our food supply.
In other words, to secure our own future, we need to help bees and other pollinators thrive.
Fortunately, that’s actually pretty easy: Just grow a few pesticide-free flowering plants in your garden. And for bonus points, consider building bug shelters.
3. Use Sustainable Growing Methods
Earth is experiencing a bit of a water crisis. And conventional growing methods aren’t exactly famous for efficient water usage. But more sustainable solutions now exist.
Case in point: Tower Garden, a closed-loop, aeroponic (i.e., soil-free) growing system that can save up to 98 percent more water than a traditional garden. It’s also vertical, which means you need only 10 percent of the space to grow it. And that’s good because land is disappearing at a rapid rate, by the way.
On an individual level, growing a Tower Garden can go a long way toward lessening the environmental impact of your lifestyle. Or, on a larger scale, Tower Farms can help you bring massive change to not only the environment but also humanity.
How to Grow Your Way to a Greener World
If you’re not already a gardener but you like the idea of growing crops for a good cause, Tower Garden is a simple and sustainable solution.
Leave a comment
Want to leave a comment? We'd love to hear it. Please note that all comments are moderated. Anything resembling spam will be deleted. Try to make this a meaningful conversation for all involved.