Despite the stereotypes about stoners being lazy and dumb, the majority that I know are wise, insightful and very conscious about social, political and environmental affairs. For this reason, the mere thought that the people who grow our beloved buds are contributing to the demise of Mother Earth leaves us reeling in shock and discomfort.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In the 21st century, there’s always a way to do something “greener”; it’s just a matter of whether or not you want to go the extra mile (or spend the extra dollars). If we want to maximize our time on this beautiful planet before climate change causes chaos, we have to demand the greenest weed growing practices and only support producers who implement and stick to them as religiously as you adhere to your daily afternoon bowl.
From conserving water and reducing waste to reusing soil and implementing renewable sources of energy like solar and wind into powering production, the cannabis industry has the potential to become a forerunner in setting eco-friendly industry standards—as opposed to becoming one of the worst environmental offenders.
In honor of Earth Day, here are six ways for growers to embrace the greener side of marijuana.
1. Use Aquaponics to Reduce Water Usage
Many marijuana growers use hydroponic systems to grow their product which require expensive nutrients for plant feed and an enormous amount of water, our most precious natural resource. But by introducing certain species of fish into the equation through aquaculture, brilliant growers have created a new system for growing both vegetation and seafood that they have dubbed “aquaponics.” This system can reduce energy consumption and water use by a massive percentage, produce faster yields and add many more benefits to traditional growth systems.
2. Invest in Renewables as a Source of Energy
Marijuana growers use an obscene amount of electricity, but the case for renewables like wind and solar power can’t be ignored. Boulder County, Colorado, a pioneer in forcing the issue of environmentally progressive practices, recently enacted a rule that businesses must "directly offset 50 percent of electricity consumption through a verified subscription in a Community Solar Garden, renewable energy generated on site, or equivalent approved by the Building Official.” We need more growers to take this step without be forced to do so.
3. Shun Chemical- and Animal-Derived Feed and Use “Veganics” Instead
There’s no need for using animal- or chemical-based composts anymore when you can use “veganics,” or organic, plant-based nutrients to grow your crops. We all know how the fertilizer industry negatively affects our environment, so it’s a no-brainer for growers to switch to a feed that not only decreases their carbon footprint, but also promotes healthier, better-tasting plants.
4. Reuse Your Soil
Your soil will still be packed with nutrients after each grow cycle, so don’t be afraid to reuse it in the name of sustainability. Check out this video to learn more:
5. Never Use Plastic for Packaging
From an environmental standpoint, plastic baggies are never the right choice for packaging. Instead, use biodegradable packaging for cannabis like hemp or sustainably produced wood to lessen your impact on Mother Earth.
6. Get into Vertical Farming
Maximizing the light you use while minimizing the space you take up is at the heart of this modern-day farming practice that’s perfect for forward-thinking cannabis cultivators. While the initial investment carries a high cost, vertical farming allows you to grow year-round without any weather-related issues and also helps eliminate the use of fossil fuels in harvesting and transporting wares. And those environmental benefits are just the beginning.
(Photo Courtesy of Below the Lion)
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