It may sound a bit dramatic but with all the concern over climate change and global warming, the simple act of gardening can make a significant impact to our planet on an individual level. This occurs in a number of ways.
1. Home composting of green waste and in particular food scraps stops these scraps ending up as landfill, where they break down producing methane, which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
2. Enriching your soil with this compost not only improves its structure, water holding capacity and encourages the earthworms and living microbes in your soil, but these microbes sequester atmospheric carbon turning your garden beds into ‘carbon sinks’.
3. All plants sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide as part of photosynthesis, so the more plants, including vegetables, turf and trees, the better.
4. Plant deciduous trees and vines for summer shade. The strategic placement of appropriate deciduous plants on the hot sides of your home, typically the western and northern aspects, can keep your home cooler in summer, while allowing the precious warming rays of the winter sun in. This can make a significant difference to your energy consumption (and consequently fossil fuel use) as you will need less cooling in summer and less heating in winter. The leaves of these deciduous plants then become the raw materials for recycling into compost and mulch.
5. Limited areas of well positioned lawn will also have the same effect of cooling your house during the hot weather. Breezes that pass under trees or over lawns are cooled, acting as natural air conditioning for your home. As contrast, the reflected heat off hard surfaces such as paving or concrete makes our homes hotter thus requiring more air conditioning. Hard impervious surfaces also contribute to storm water run off instead of allowing rainfall to soak into the ground.
6. Growing your own fruit and vegetables not only provides us with the opportunity to eat quality fresh, chemical free produce, it drastically reduces the ‘food miles’, the distance the food travels from the time of production until it reaches us (some produce travels 1000s of km before reaching our homes). By reducing transport, we are reducing fossil fuel use and carbon emissions.
So, improve your soil with compost and plant a garden including a produce garden, as part of your strategy to reduce your carbon foot print.
Do you have a garden? How do you do your part for the environment? Tell us below!