Recent droughts in Australia are the worst recorded in recent years and it’s not even summer yet. Many farmers are unsure whether they have a long-term future, with grazing pastures being turned into unusable dust bowls. Despite the not so subtle warnings of climate change, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seems to be ignoring the advice from the scientific community and is reneging on carbon emission reduction targets as part of a new energy policy.
If you’re the type of person that’s worried about whether your grandchildren will be able to live on planet earth (and we kinda hope you are!), then you may want to consider gardening as a valid option to reduce your overall carbon footprint.
Grow your own food
Buying food creates a gigantic carbon footprint. How do you think those succulent Californian peaches got to your kitchen? It takes transportation across vast distances (known as ‘food miles’) and, storage at precise temperatures, requiring a lot of energy. Also, consider the copious amounts of packaging used by the average supermarket. Many farms also use dodgy methods that don’t put the environment anywhere near the top of the priority list.
With a little bit of forward-planning and trying to eat food that’s in season it’s possible to replace around 10-20% of bought food with produce from your own back garden. Not only that, but growing your own vegetables is probably far healthier compared to supermarket alternatives, many of which use strong pesticides.
The key to a successful garden, particularly if it’s small, is to use the space and plants strategically. Map out your garden before you get started, working with your regional climate to plant season vegetables that will flourish. Plants like certain neighbours more than others, so ensure you do your research and choose complementary plants that work together to encourage growth.
Instead of grass, which can be very difficult to maintain and requires gas for mowing, why not choose trees, flowers, and/or shrubs instead? You’ll be making your own contribution to the production of pure and breathable oxygen from your very own backyard. Opt for shade-producing trees, and you can drastically reduce the requirement for expensive and damaging air-conditioning units. Not only that, but the positioning of your trees can also provide additional privacy for your home.
Yes, it may be tempting to go for cheaper - and, let’s face it, sometimes more effective - fertilisers, but keep in mind that generic nitrogen products such as these produce a staggering amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Speaking at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Alan Townsend observed that nitrogen is perhaps the “biggest environmental disaster that nobody has heard of.”
Seeking an alternative that’s a little healthier for the planet? Ensure you go for an organic option, ideally certified by a trusted source.. Or, better, yet, read our next tip and be even more environmentally friendly!
According to a UC Santa Barbara study, the most significant effect of a household garden on emissions is the diversion of food waste from landfills, reducing the emission of methane and nitrous oxide as a result of rotting.
While not strictly gardening per se, setting up a compost bin in your garden is an excellent way to recycle household waste. If you’re doing any kind of gardening and you have the space for a compost bin, we can highly recommend it. Composting has several key benefits for the environmentally conscious:
* Acts as an ideal natural fertiliser for your garden. Say goodbye to commercial fertilisers with yucky ingredients and know exactly what you’re putting into your garden.
* Compost bins actually take more than most people think, including paper and cardboard.
* Low maintenance. All you need to do is chuck in your waste, and the natural composting cycle will do the rest.
Taking up gardening may seem like a small gesture towards the environment, but individual steps can lead to real change. Considering Australian households account for roughly 20% of the country’s overall emissions, you can make a real impact here. Ditch or minimise what you buy from the supermarket, get composting, plant some trees, and become part of the climate change solution.