5 Ways Gardening Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
By CAMERON BRUNS, Climate Store
This Saturday, I will be attending a workshop that will discuss ways you can reduce your carbon footprint through your garden. At ClimateStore, we care deeply about helping people live sustainable lives, and gardening can play a big role in living more sustainably. Gardening done well can significantly benefit the environment and can help fight against climate change. Whether you are just beginning or are an expert gardener, there are a number of ways that gardening can help you reduce your carbon footprint. Here are a few:
- Grow your own vegetables. For the average American, about 8% of personal carbon footprint comes from food! Of that, 28.5% is from transporting the food, and 10% is from . By growing as much food as you can in your back yard – you are cutting down these percentages. Ambitious gardeners that use their garden to replace 20% of bought food, reduce their carbon footprint by about 68 lbs of CO2 per year!
- Avoid synthetic fertilizers. Most store bought fertilizers are loaded with nutrient boosting nitrogen. This is a fundamental part of fertilizers, plants need it, but according to Cornell Plantations’ Climate Change Series, most generic nitrogen fertilizers require so much energy to produce and transport, that they produce 4-8 lbs of CO2 emissions per ton. This means the purchase of one bag will up your personal carbon footprint fairly significantly. Gardeners should also avoid using peat as fertilizer because peatlands are important carbon sinks that lose their effectiveness when we dig them up for domestic and commercial uses.
- Start composting food scraps and lawn clippings. Compost is the perfect solution to the fertilizer problem. By composting food and yard scraps at home you are both reducing the amount of waste transported to landfills or sent to incinerators, you are also creating some nutrient-rich soil that can be used to feed your garden! Put a caddy in the kitchen next to trash and recycling receptacles to conveniently collect scraps, then use an outdoor compost barrel to turn your waste turn into an organic nitrogen source for your garden.
- Use less water or better yet, start collecting rainwater! Producing potable water uses a large amount of energy in the U.S., even though 30 – 60% of our water goes right to our lawns! Luckily, there are some easy ways to conserve water. First, plant mostly native plants in your garden; these plants are used to your local climate and require less care than non-native species.
- Use planters and containers made from upcycled materials. Instead of creating demand for virgin materials, reuse something old as a planter. One great example is Flat Tire Décor’s innovative line of planters made of upcycled tires!
These are just a few examples of the steps you can take to begin living a more environmentally- conscious, sustainable lifestyle using your garden. All of these steps benefit not only the environment but you as well, either through your health or your wallet! With your garden, you can join us in our important fight against climate change.
To learn about more ways to fight climate change with your garden, join me at Northeastern University this weekend!