Gardening for a better ecosystem and cooler climate

I’ve been on a mission to grow most of our food in our garden/backyard area. I am also on a mission to increase our soil quality and improve the ecosystem. The more I learn, the more I am aware of the state of our environment, and the more I am concerned about the American lifestyle that endangers it.  Climate change, global warming, deforestation, salinization, toxic runoff and emissions, pollution, extinctions, hazardous waste, and all the other words that provoke us to respond but instead leaves us feeling defeated at the enormity of the problem. I do not think I am much different than the average American, therefore if I feel this way, I’m sure others do as well. The good news is that there IS something we can do to help and we can start now with the smallest habit change.

  1. Make conscious choices. Be more mindful and less impulsive with our purchases, this includes food. Stuff that we accumulate is the largest contributor to global warming (see footprint).
  2. Make a shopping list before going to the store. Keep a list of items or food that you could potentially produce at home for yourself or get second hand. Earmark the ones that are transported the farthest and look to buy local.
  3. Use biodegradable. Consider what the product is made of and how it was produced. Is manufacturing of the item a major pollutant?
“How Bad are Bananas?” The Carbon Footprint of Everything

Keep in mind, we are not going to be able to cut out everything that increases carbon because just living generates carbon, but we can reduce our footprint by focusing on those things or activities that are the worst offenders, or even the ones that are the easiest for us to replace.

  • Make a little time for researching. Don’t rely on hearsay, even this article. When reading advice and tips, check to see who is sponsoring the advice (bias) and if there is factual support (citations or references). For example, if  you want to quit using plastic in the kitchen, look for other products that are cleaner for the environment when manufactured. Therefore, research which industries are the worst air quality offenders.
  • Plant trees. Grow a food forest with fruit and nut trees then layer the undergrowth with fruit bushes, vines and edible plants. Trees take carbon from the atmosphere so plant as many as you can. Trees also provide shade which can lower air conditioning consumption.
  • Keep the ground covered. Mulch with woodchips or straw, something natural that will breakdown and help your soil.
  • Avoid chemicals that harm your ecosystem. Why use sprays when you can pull out, dig up, or cut and cover (smother). It may be more time consuming initially, but your worms and bees will thank you. You may also consider what products you use that get flushed down the drain because they too can be harmful to life. But don’t get overwhelmed with too much. Do what you can until it becomes a new habit, then tackle other areas.
  • Be aware of your carbon footprint. A typical modern consumer that I found in this book, “How Bad are Bananas?” by Mike Berners-Lee. The book is a great read, by the way, and it does not use guilt as a motivator, instead he lets the reader make their own conclusions and decisions.

Ecology Center. Pollution and hazards from Manufacturing. PTF: Environmental Impacts.

Joshua Mayer. Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions, Scientists Find. E360 Digest. February 20, 2019.

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