Investing in environment and future of our planet at personal level
"We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth ? How dare you !!" -- Greta thunberg
Earth, our planet , the source of all life is gradually dying and we are responsible for it. We are losing 100-1000 species every year for every million species of plants/animals (source: NatGeo) mostly by human caused habitat destruction. As per an estimate the sea food on earth will end in next 28 years, we have also successfully destroyed 25% of coral reefs which is habitat of ~27% of all aquatic life. The rate of forest fires in Amazon(Brazil) increased by 76% over last year, we lost 7200 square miles of rainforest in a single fire incident earlier this year in 2019. Also, guess what, with the current consumption trend we already need 1.7 times of what Earth can sustain.
Think about where are we headed and what kind of world are we going to leave behind for our children !
"We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to"
Even if we are not concerned about the world, think about this fact.. We breathe 11,000 litres of air every day, without any filtration. Any dust particles, microbe, harmful gases reaches our lungs and blood supply without any filtration. We are worried about impurities in water which we consume hardly 4-5 litres every day but aren't bothered about the air quality at all. A very short sighted solution can be to stay indoors or have an air purifier @ home but then we do go out. We do spend significant amount of time in places without any air purification (just to make it clear A.C doesn't qualify as air purifier). In-fact, as per a recent research air quality inside houses is often worse than outside because of accumulation of dust from foot-wears/clothes, micro particles from cloth fabrics, bacteria from disintegrating food material etc.
We need to realise that there is literally no where to run from the pollution and if we continue down the same path, we are moving very rapidly towards a mass extinction event in our own life time. It is estimated that in last 1 year itself humans lost 664k lives to air pollution and 27.6 million years of healthy life to the same. The seasonal allergies/cold you get is not only a function of your reduced immunity/lifestyle but also a function of ever increasing pollution levels making us sick.
"The greatest threat to our planet is that we think that someone else will save it"
A lot of us although don't think we are accountable for it or are living in a belief that they can't do anything about it. I am here to tell you that it is not true, each one of us can have a positive and significant impact on the world and environment and all we need to do is to do our own bit. We are so concerned about money, entertainment and other chores of our life that we forget our responsibility towards our planet.
Investing in environment, living a happy & healthy life
Wonders of a balcony garden
I am not going to suggest something which I can't practice myself, because I believe that solutions should be sustainable and easy to implement. I would also say that on a typical weekday I work for 14-16 hours on an average (yes I am workaholic), that work is majorly my day job but also encompasses managing this website (content+marketing) and reading stuff. Despite such a schedule I am able to sustain ~50+ plants in my apartment. These plants are a mix of natural vegetables (tomato, potato, brinjal), herbs (aloe-vera, holy basil, mint, spices), flowers and indoor plants like (money plant, lucky bamboo etc.).
Potato harvest from a single pot
A lot of my kitchen herbs supply come from my balcony garden along with seasonal/occasional harvest of delicious vegetables. These plants do lift my mood up on a gloomy day and boost my concentration levels as well normally (there is a research on advantages of greenery on brain functioning). Apart from this, my entire green kitchen waste goes into these plant pots and gets recycled on the spot, thus reducing my waste foot-print.
Currently with ~50 plants, this garden has become a self growing mini ecosystem where these plants cross-pollinate and spread from one pot into another. Some of the pointers to keep in mind while planting such a garden are:
Pick more of the plants which are not seasonal and require low maintenance, i.e. they can survive over a long weekend when you are on a holiday.
The plant you choose can be completely ornamental/flowers, herbs, vegetables or general ones. It all depends on your mood and what you want to see everyday/take care off.
Prefer larger pots over smaller ones as they provide higher nutrition to plants and can hold moisture for longer period of time.
Never fill a pot to 100% of its capacity with soil, always leave 20% space on top. This prevents soil loss from over-flow of water (during watering the plant).
Never excessively water your plant because it can drain nutrients from the soil.
Always have a hole at the bottom of the pot, this lets excessive water leave the pot, thus preventing rotting of roots.
Make sure your plants get at least couple of hours of sunlight (specially needed for vegetables, herbs and flowers, optional for indoor/shade-loving plants).
Either put vegetable or fruit peels/used tea/coffee as fertilisers (just put it in outdoor plant's pot) or else buy some organic fertiliser from supermarket (fertiliser should be put only couple of spoons per pot once a month).
If you live in extremely hot and dry place water your plants daily to keep the soil moist, if you live in a cold/humid place, water your plants once in every 2 days. Lack of water puts your plant into a trauma and hinders its growth.
Water your plants in the night also if you want to change pots of the plant that should ideally be done in night. It is considered that plants have reduced biological awareness in night (no photosynthesis) and that makes it easy to swap their places without putting your plant into a trauma.
Do not pluck leaves or flowers from your plant in night.
Pluck any dry leaves/flowers/stem from your plant occasionally and bury it in the soil of the same plant to make it fertiliser for the same plant (recycling). Removing dry leaves prevents other leaves or parts of plant from drying.
Always have some excess soil in your house in a bag or pot so that you can use it to shift existing plant or plant new ones.
While shifting a plant never ever damage its roots, never pull out a plant from mud to move it to a another place. Always move plant along with the soil its root are holding.
Aloe-vera, holy basil, money plant etc. in balcony
Turning household waste into plant habitat
Once you have the your own balcony garden you will start seeing small plants growing automatically in the pots, mostly of the same variety as you have planted (from flowers/seeds). If that is not the case you can get new plants always from a super market or a plant nursery close to you. Now, instead of purchasing a pot from the nursery you can use broken utensils in your house and use excess soil from some of your pots (or if you have it in storage) to plant any new plants. This will help you recycle your waste which you would have otherwise thrown out.
Lucky bamboo plant in food delivery plastic box
Re-cycling plastic containers and broken ceramic mugs
Making plant terrarium
If you feel creative and want to experiment with plant based decor, you can think of building terrariums from glass bottles/containers in your house. All you need to get would be some coloured stones, small/miniature toys, soil, indoor plant and a glass container. In less than 30 minutes you can put in all of this together to create a beautiful piece of art and yet have a positive impact on environment.
Just out some coloured rocks at the bottom, put some soil on top of it and carefully put a plant, cover its roots with soil. Post which put some more coloured rocks and toys on top of soil and that's it, your terrarium is ready. Be mindful of using rocks which do not leak colour into the soil when water is poured over them, as that will leak harmful chemicals into the soil.
Recycling bio-waste into beautiful art work
Just like we can turn plastics, ceramics, glass into beautiful art work, you can also try your hands (and creativity) at other bio-wastes. For example coconut shells can become a very good pot for plants which can survive high moisture content (lucky bamboo, money plant etc.). You can use them as home decor or normal hanging pots. Ultimately you should aim that maximum of your pots @ house are recycled stuff and not pots purchased from the market, reason for the same is that there is some emission involved in even creating most of the pots available in the market. It's like using paper bag (cutting a tree) to prevent plastic usage.
"Be a part of solution and not pollution, plant trees"
Plants are truly amazing in terms of the benefits they provide and using them as home decor will not only lift your mood, make you a happier/healthier individual but will also reduce your carbon/waste foot-print.
You can get a lot of your small ticket kitchen supplies of herbs right from your balcony and believe me its not only convenient, healthy (zero pesticides) but also something which makes you happy. These are some very small sustainable things we can do to help environment while living our daily lives. In fact I have 4-5 plants at my office desk as well. Fill your life with some plants and freshness!!