A guide to collecting houseplants sustainably
Humans have been fascinated by nature for millennia; so it’s no surprise that our love for the outdoors slowly transformed into the practice of keeping plants in our homes. The pandemic saw a skyrocketing increase in plant sales, which was further proof that we need to be around plants instead of looking at them on our screens.
Houseplants are not just a soothing addition to a space, they’re also useful for filtering the air inside our homes – yep, pollutants are present even inside our homes *gasp*. By naturally removing toxins from the air, plants allow you to fight colds, sleep better and increase oxygen levels. Sounds perfect, right?
But there are downsides to investing in houseplants – they aren’t always the most sustainable. Large plant farms that grow houseplants occupy acres of land and use up millions of litres of water. These farms also require greenhouses to keep the plants in optimal conditions, and we all know how harmful greenhouses are to the planet. Transporting the plants to various locations then adds to the carbon emissions in what’s known as “plant miles”.
So how do we bring plants into our homes without causing further damage to the environment?
Choose small nurseries over large industrial plant farms. This way you can avoid investing in plants that are shipped from other parts of the country and reducing plant miles. Rare species are beautiful, no doubt, but it’s wiser to buy plants that are native to your region. This means they’ll live longer lives too!
Work with what you have
If you already have a plant or two at home, look into cuttings, seeds, or propagating them so you can grow your collection without buying new plants. Engage in plant swaps with friends or neighbours – this way everyone gets something new while reducing their environmental impact. But first, it’s best to check if you really need a new plant – caring for a plant can be stressful, so you need to be sure you’ll have the time and energy to care for it.
Most nurseries will give you plants in plastic pots which should be avoided – especially the black plastics because they are not recyclable and will end up in a landfill. Instead, look for ceramic or terracotta pots. You can even repurpose old glass bottles, cans, or kettles – just make sure there are drainage holes so that water doesn’t accumulate and lead to root rot.
Grey is great
Grey water is an excellent way to save water and also repurpose water that isn’t dirty enough to be flushed away. Collecting water from washing veggies and even rainwater will help you care for your plants without worrying about water usage. Rainwater is especially good for your plants as it contains more oxygen than tap water.
Beat the peat
Peat is a layer of soil, formed from partially decomposed organic matter in waterlogged areas like bogs. The wetlands where peat is produced are called “carbon sinks” which means they store large amounts of carbon. So when we extract peat from these wetlands, we’re destroying a carbon sink that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Opt for using natural fertilisers, like eggshells and coffee grounds instead.
Instead of spraying harmful chemicals on your plants, especially inside your house, go for neem oil, garlic oil spray, or soapy water to eliminate plant pests.
Our plant picks
And finally, here are some plants that we recommend keeping in your home:
- Money plant – easy to maintain, doesn’t need constant attention, and great for air purification.
- Philodendron – purifies the air.
- Peace Lily – peace lilies absorb mould spores which commonly occur from dust inside. It can be useful in areas of high humidity, like the bathroom.
- Snake plant - extremely effective in absorbing harsh chemicals like carbon monoxide, benzene, etc. found in indoor air. It also produces oxygen, absorbs CO2 in the night, and is beneficial for airborne allergies.
- Spider plant – purifies the air and removes toxins.
- Aloe vera – not only is the gel inside the aloe vera leaves useful for the skin, but the plant also acts as an air purifier.
And that’s all it takes to become a mindful plant parent! Houseplants make every space more inviting, and let’s face it, the more green in this world, the better. Don’t leaf us hanging – let us know how it goes!
Sources: sustainably-chic.com, gardenista.com, omysa.com, activesustainability.com, eco-age.com, ecoclubofficial.com.