Grow More Stuff to Help the Environment

IMG_2330.JPGI’ve got a theory: We should grow more stuff.

The other day I was reading an article from a conservative Republican meteorologist concerned about climate change. His impassioned arguments made me want to do more to be environmentally friendly. I started thinking of things I could do and I was coming up blank. I already do a lot—recycling as much as possible, using re-usable containers and bags, trying to minimize water and electricity use, etc.—and something like getting a more fuel efficient car or furnace isn’t a choice you get to make every day.

But then I started thinking about my yard. I have a pretty low impact yard (i.e., I’m lazy). I don’t use any gas-powered tools or harsh chemicals. So my yard isn’t doing much harm. But is it doing any good?

I started thinking about all the good that plants do. They replenish oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, clean the air, reduce heat in the summer and block wind in the winter, reduce noise, stop erosion and create habitats for wildlife (never mind the less tangible benefits, like the aesthetics and enjoyment we get). So more plants seems like an all around good thing. Grow more plants and you’re doing more good for the environment, theoretically.

I also theorized that the more you grow, the better. The larger the surface area of the leaf the more it can do to clean the air. So a tree is going to have a bigger impact than a patch of grass. A shrubbery might have less impact than a tree, but it’s going to do more than the grass it replaces. And a pot of flowers is doing more than bare concrete. We may be talking about minute amounts, but it’s still something.

So I’ve decided I want to start growing more stuff. Which is kind of funny for anyone who knows me. I have the opposite of a green thumb. Thankfully I’m approaching this with the idea that anything is better than nothing. So even if I plant a few pots and they die off in a month or two, that’s better than nothing. I don’t know if we’ll actually plant a tree (my yard is pretty small), but there are plenty of spaces where a small bush or even a small plant might do more good than some grass (or creeping charlie, as it is). We have plenty of concrete and deck space that we can reclaim with a potted plant, adding more green area and doing more good.

To start this little experiment I got a rain barrel and started a compost bin. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while, but it always seemed silly when we didn’t do any gardening of any kind. Now we’ll have a purpose for the compost and stored rain water, and hopefully that will encourage more planting and green growth.

I don’t know what will come of this little experiment. Maybe it’s silly. Maybe I’ll get bored with it. But I kind of like the idea that my yard could be doing more to help the environment. It’s one thing to minimize impact by recycling or using less. But it’s another thing to be actively improving things.

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