The houseplant industry is not only thriving but booming due, in no short part, to millennials. Easier to take care of than most pets, quiet, and adding a gentle beauty to our rooms, houseplants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and there is a fit for a grower of any skill level from beginner to expert.
But what is it that actually goes into bringing houseplants into our lives, and can owning a houseplant actually be…unethical? This can actually be the case, especially when the plants are improperly sourced or brought far out of their natural habitats, on top of several other reasons that can cause the owning of houseplants to be unethical.
Read on to find out exactly how your houseplants can be unethical when it comes to the environment, and exactly what you can do to help the situation!
Are My Houseplants Environmentally Ethical?
The answer? Sadly not really. Having a houseplant may help keep your air a little fresher and improve the look of our surroundings, but overall the owning of houseplants does little to help out the environment. The reverse is far more true, as a matter of fact.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to how owning a houseplant (or more than one) can negatively affect the environment. These include :
- Transportation / Air Miles: Few of us think about where our plants have come from beyond wishing we could visit those faraway places before moving on to the next thought. However, the transportation of houseplants takes up a lot of space on planes and trucks, especially if the plants are being moved from places such as Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and other tropical areas to the US, Canada, and the UK.
- Plant Theft: While many plants may be grown in greenhouses around the world, the sad fact is that many native plants are often stripped out of their natural habitats and plopped in pots, then sent far away from where they were first grown. Even plants that may have once been common in the wild are becoming endangered due to people taking and selling them without replanting anything in turn. Barrel cacti, ginseng, venus flytraps, and cycads all belong to this group and are even on the verge of extinction.
- Nonbiodegradable pots: Though there has been a growing trend away from the usage of plastic pots towards those that are more biodegradable, there is still a significant amount of plastic pots in usage. Cheaper and easier to make, plastic pots have been the go-to for many years and are incredible headaches for those trying to recycle.
- Peat usage and depletion – Peat, which is often used as a planting material due to its versatility and health benefits for the plants planted in it, is actually made up of a resource that takes generations to create and is rapidly disappearing from the planet. Stripped out of ancient wetlands, peat depletion is leading to the loss of habitat for many animal species and the increase of flood threats in the area.
How Can I Be a More Ethical Houseplant Owner?
The first way to become a more ethical houseplant owner is to look at how and where you are sourcing your plants from. Try and visit local rather than ordering from across the country or across the world, and try and make sure whoever you are ordering from is following ethical practices when it comes to sourcing their own plants. You could even try cuttings swaps, where other houseplant owners will trade cuttings off their own plants in return for some of yours, which cuts down on a lot of the transport costs and worry.
Additionally, look at the kinds of plants you are bringing into your home, whether you are suited and knowledgeable enough about them to care for them properly, and whether they can thrive in their new environment. If you do not have the resources to maintain the appropriate temperature, humidity, and other factors for certain exotic plants it might be better to go for something else instead of allowing it to die. It will also help the environment, since you should try and steer clear of those plants which are deemed ‘in-danger’ in their natural habitats, allowing them to remain where they should be rather than in your home.
Finally, consider what kind of pots and soils you are using. Steer clear of plastics and nonbiodegradable pots in favor of those that will be easier to recycle once the plants have outgrown them. Also, try different soils rather than peat, and encourage others to do the same. All combined these will help make your owning and growing of houseplants a far more ethical matter than before!
When it comes to houseplants, the beauty and peaceful joy they bring into our lives and homes is nothing to overlook. However we should take into careful consideration just what having them in our homes can do to the environment, and how we can lessen our impact on the world around us. After all, we want to keep these plants alive for generations to come, and to do that we need to put in the effort now.
Above all, living consciously and ethically means increased awareness of these systems and how you impact natural populations every day. Ethical Inc. is proud to be your hub for ethically-minded information, discussion, and of course, all-natural supplementation.
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