The marijuana industry has exploded in recent years. With legalisation continuing in different areas all over the world, more grow spaces are being created all the time. That places greater pressure on natural resources. However, there are sustainable growing practices that will prevent the depletion of those resources. Using these tips, marijuana can be grown in a way that benefits the plant, and all other life on Earth.
What effects current grows have on the environment
You may not think about it when taking care of your plants, but growing even one marijuana plant has a huge environmental impact.
Indoor grows use one percent of all electricity in the United States. To put that in perspective, that’s the same amount of energy used by all household computers in the country. Placing a dollar value on that, it’s about $6 billion. Indoor grows also consume eight times more electricity than other businesses.
Growers sometimes prefer to keep their indoor plants off the grid. When they do, they must use a generator to power the lights, fans, and ventilation systems required. Generators though, burn diesel and gasoline. This places more carbon dioxide into the air, and is not more sustainable than using electricity.
Those growing outside may think they are being environmentally-friendly, but that’s not always the case. Digging up land to plant can destroy eco-systems in the soil, as can any nutrients that are added. If the grow area is in a remote place, access roads and lanes may need to be created. Pesticides can destroy wildlife. Water taken from streams, lakes, or rivers may disrupt the marine life within.
No matter where a grow operation is, all marijuana plants need water, and a lot of it. One marijuana plant can require as much as six gallons of water a day. To put that in perspective, dishwashers use approximately four gallons of water during one load.
It’s clear that using traditional growing methods is not sustainable, and not good for the environment. So, what can growers do to reduce their carbon footprint?
What can we do to be more sustainable?
Only once growers understand the environmental impact their grow operations have, can they start doing something about it. Luckily, there are a few sustainable tips that all growers will find easy to follow.
The first is to go organic whenever possible. This can apply to nutrients, as well as pesticides and soil used for plants. These methods can also save the grower time and money in the future. Plants grown organically get most of their food from the nutrient-rich soil. This means fewer resources are used. It can also save growers money, as they don’t need to purchase supplemental nutrients.
Energy-efficient lights will make one of the most dramatic changes to a grow space. LED lights produce a great quality of light for plants, yet they use less than half the energy of other types of lights. Growers are sometimes hesitant to make the switch to LEDs due to their higher cost, but find they are well worth it in the end.
LEDs also cause less water evaporation. This means that less water needs to be used in maintaining the plant, and fewer nutrients can also be given. One reason LEDs cause so little evaporation is because they don’t produce any heat. This results in a more sustainable grow space overall.
Lights shouldn’t be the only way growers try to conserve water. There are so many ways to reduce water consumption just by reusing water that may already be in the grow space. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners for instance, typically have a reservoir filled with water. Instead of dumping that down the sink, it can be emptied into plant containers. Rain barrels allow growers to reuse water already available. They are also very easy to maintain, as they simply need to be kept outside.
Large commercial grows often employ closed circuit desalination (CCD) and reverse osmosis (RO) techniques. Home growers can also use these methods. CCD and RO reclaim approximately 75 to 97 percent of the water used in the grow area. Any water waste is purified, to lessen any negative environmental impact.
Growers certainly need to be aware of sustainable practices while growing their marijuana plants. However, they also need to understand that any waste created by their grow space can also hurt the environment. Many are beginning to understand this and create compost spaces. This allows the plants to naturally break down and potentially be used as food and fertilizer for future plants.
Incorporating a cloning space among the other plants is also a sustainable practice. Instead of constantly purchasing new seeds or clones from a seed bank or dispensary, the grower will always have them on-hand. To start cloning plants, all one really needs is a fluorescent light, a cloning tray with a dome, and aerated grow mediums.
Growers can start the cloning process by determining which plant to clone. They should choose plants with strong genetics and desirable qualities. Once the plant is selected, a small branch above the second node of the plant can be clipped off with a sharp sterilized knife. Then it simply has to be placed into the cloning tray and covered. The dome will ensure proper humidity so the clone can take root and begin to grow into a full-sized plant. Cloning can save growers hundreds of dollars, and reuses plants in a creatively sustainable way.
As marijuana legalisation continues around the globe, regulation may also follow that requires growers to grow in a sustainable manner. Growers should not wait until that regulation comes, though. Incorporating growing practices that are good for the planet will ensure a healthier space for everyone on Earth. Growers just have to make it a priority.