Gardening is a great way for you to improve the quality of our air, as plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. If you don’t have a backyard, plant herbs and flowers in pots at work or at home; it’s certain to better our air and lift your spirits.
Paradoxically, many gardening tools and products are among the worst air-offenders. The lawn mower, perhaps America’s most ubiquitous gardening tool, can be an enormous polluter. Running a gas-powered mower for an hour creates as much pollution as driving an old car for 100 miles. If you have a gas mower at home, consider replacing it with an electric or push mower.
Other gardening culprits include insecticides and fertilizers. Instead of toxic insecticides, consider introducing beneficial predator insects such as lady bugs, green lacewings and praying mantises, all of which prey on the bugs that eat your plants. Also, watered-down liquid dish soap functions as a great non-toxic bug repellent. If snails are your garden’s greatest adversary, place a shallow pan in the ground filled with stale beer—the snails will be drawn to the yeast in the beer and away from your flowers, herbs, and veggies.
If your plants need a little push, incorporate compost into your soil rather than chemical fertilizers. Not only will you be providing your plants with beneficial, non-toxic nutrients; but by composting fruit and vegetable remains, you will significantly reduce your contribution to the waste stream. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24 percent of the solid waste sent to landfills in the United States.
Another way to ensure your garden’s low impact on the environment is to purchase locally sourced plants that are native to your area. This way, less fuel is used in their transportation, and less water and other resources are required for their maintenance.
If your workplace is landscaped, check in with the building’s contracted gardening crew and ask them to consider replacing their gas-powered equipment with electric, and to consider all-natural alternatives to toxic insecticides and fertilizers. Your co-workers will thank you when they step outside and take a breath of fresh air!