Since at least 2008 we’ve been championing that people with land should plant a food garden. The best time to start your garden is today, the second best time is tomorrow. Being stuck at home to slow the spread of COVID-19 has inspired people to start growing their own gardens – great! Interest in gardening has grown this year and this means (very) local produce for more people. Gardening is fun and a great way to better understand food you eat, give it a shot!
For a city boy like me, born and raised in Brooklyn, where I had spent most of my adult life, this was all very new. Once you get your hands in soil—really get dirty with it, feel it under your fingernails—there’s a change in perspective, and you’re someone different. You’ve opened the tiniest of windows onto the ecological reality of the forces that sustain human existence, the biogeophysical relationships of water, sunlight, air, earth. Quite suddenly, what seemed mysterious quotients—say, the balance of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, and potassium—become commonalities of understanding and, eventually, of wisdom. The plants that depend on all those factors in harmony rise up, or they don’t.
It’s hard to express the pride and lovingness and delight in seeing a plant germinate, and grow tall and hardy, and then flower and put fruit out. When the crop came fresh and healthy last summer—there wasn’t a hint of blight, and no insects attacked it—I felt a bit like Viva and I had brought green babies into adulthood. We will never not do it again.
Plants in your home and workplace can reduce stress and make the air you breath cleaner. If I had my way then every wall would be a bio wall. Since that’s not possible I’m happy to advocate for some plants that are easy to care for. Even if you don’t have a green thumb then these plants are for you.
You’ve probably seen the super popular snake plant on Instagram or at your local coffee shops and restaurants. Their vertical, spear-like leaves make them stand out in a sea of green. Not to be confused withthe spider plant, snake plants can come in a number of varietals: tall or short, with different leaf and color patterns. This was the second plant I bought to sit on my floor, and boy, do I love the heck out of it. They add a very exciting, bold visual element to any living space—alone or among other plants.
Probably one of my favorite features is that they don’t attract many pests or at all, and according to NASA, theykeep the air inside the home clean. But like the ZZ plant, don’t eat it.
Producing food takes a lot of energy regardless of where it comes from, but some foods require a lot more input than others. In general it takes way more energy to feed people meat than it does a plant based diet because the animals need to be fed before they are slaughtered. A meat diet impacts the environment in a negative way.
Fret not though as you can greatly lower your carbon emissions by just eating less meat. It’s easy to be vegetarian, and it’s even easier to slowly transition to a plant focussed diet. Furthermore, not only is switching to a primarily plant based diet good for the planet it is also good for your health. It’s a simple way to make the world and yourself better.
If the global population followed the health eating guidelines published by the World Cancer Research Fund International and World Health Organization, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would drop 29 per cent compared to the baseline scenario. The elimination of red meat and poultry entirely would lower emissions by 55 per cent, while a vegan diet would reduce them by 70 per cent. Rates of early mortality would also decline by 6 to 10 per cent, depending on the scenario.
Shubhendu Sharma has found a way to get a small area of land to become a thick forest nearly impossible to walk trough. The idea is to take useless spaces in cities (like car parking) and turn them into miniature forests. These mini-forests can cool the local temperature, clean the air, and increase local happiness.
What’s more, the process uses native plants so it is a self-sustaining setup of plants. Sharma has created a company, Afforestt, to sell the plant-growing service to cities.
“It’s the natural process of growth, but amplified,” says Afforestt founder Shubhendu Sharma. Through an intensive process of building nutrients three feet deep in the soil and carefully plotting out a mix of trees, Sharma’s team can fill up an entire plot of land with a forest so thick it’s impossible to walk inside.
The technique was originally developed by Japanese scientist Akira Miyawaki, who demonstrated it at Toyota while Sharma worked there. The engineer was so inspired that he ended up building a similar forest in his own backyard, and eventually left Toyota to start building small super-forests everywhere.
Workplaces aren’t associated with fun, but there are certain designs of places that can make places more enjoyable. It turns out that buildings designed with sustainability in mind tend to be a better, more productive place to work. You should convince your boss that you should move to a green building.
Until that happens here’s a solution that you can put into action rather quickly:
3. A PLANT OR A VIEW OF NATURE WILL IMPROVE YOUR WORK
Windows also help by providing views–something that’s especially helpful if you’re looking at nature. Looking at trees or a park is proven to make employees less frustrated, more patient, healthier, and more focused on work. Indoor plants, too, help make people more efficient and better able to concentrate. If you don’t have a view or a plant, even pictures of nature can help.