Written by The Sunday Review, Jacqui Palumbo

Subscribe to The Sunday Review’s Life, But Greener newsletter. This seven-part guide will help you reduce your carbon footprint. your Individual role in the climate crisis. your eco-anxiety.

Indoor houseplants are everywhere, from temperamental fiddle-leaf plants to more laid-back snake plants. This is because indoor houseplants became a relaxing and enjoyable hobby during the pandemic.

Neue plant Parents (including this writer) were responsible for a rise in Google searches for popular flora, such as pothos, prayer plants, and other flora in 2020. Meanwhile, seasoned caretakers shared tips on social media platforms like TikTok, where the hashtag #plantsoftiktok has amassed more than 6 billion views. With home delivery services such as The Sill, Bloomscape and Bloomscape available, creating Instagrammable oases at-home is now easy.

But how? green is your greenery? It is only natural that there should be more plants to benefit the environment. After all, they are the ones who produce oxygen. Recent research has revealed that houseplants are not as effective at improving the air quality as originally thought. They are not as eco-friendly as they appear, and can have an impact on the planet.

Although houseplants can provide wellness and therapeutic benefits, their industry also has environmental impacts. Credit: Morsa Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

It’s not perfect, but it is It’s difficult to quantify indoor plants’ environmental impact. Outdoor gardening, cut flowers and potted flower are often grouped together in studies of the horticulture trade — this is behind your Local plant Shop online or in-store is A multi-billion-dollar industry, it requires enormous amounts of resources to transport and grow greenery. your home. There are over 2,300 indoor spaces in the US alone. plant According to a 2019 report, sales and growers were worth $691 millions. census report By the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Growing indoor foliage plants is a highly intensive process,” Dr. Loren R. Oki is a specialist in environmental and horticulture at University of California Davis and codirector at University of California Nursery and Floriculture Alliance. “There’s high plant densities, there’s fast turnovers (between growing and shipping plants). It’s a really complex system…They require a lot of resources like energy, labor, water, (and) fertilizers,” The potting mix is also included.

Hidden costs

An indoor garden can have many benefits, including therapeutic and wellbeing. It can be used indoors and outdoors to reduce stress, increase attention, and provide some much-needed relaxation. green into urban environments. Missy Bidwell (horticulturist at Cornell Botanic Gardens, New York) said that it is important to consider all resources necessary to grow and maintain urban gardens. your To find the right balance between houseplants and other plants. “When you stop and think about all of the inputs, you have to (consider) the outputs — do they have a bigger advantage? Do they have a bigger impact on your life?”

Although the horticulture industry has made significant strides in recent years in areas such as energy-efficient greenhouses or improvements in water application, there are still urgent and collective environmental impacts.

The multi-billion-dollar behind your local plant shop requires vast amounts of resources and produces waste and pollution.

Multi-billion-dollar hinterland your local plant Shops require a lot of resources, and produce waste and pollution. Credit: Mansoreh Motamedi/Moment Radio/Getty Images

According to a 2012 study, water use is a major factor in drought-prone regions. However, nitrates from fertilers have contaminated Chesapeake Bay. It is the largest estuary in the US and California’s drinking water. report From UC Davis. Nitrous oxide is Also emitted by these fertilizers, a greenhouse gas which warms the atmosphere almost 300 times faster than carbon dioxide.

Oki points out that pesticides are required in the industry because “indoor plants and other nursery products are aesthetic products,” He said. “They need to be perfect. If the plant has a brown leaf on it, people won’t buy it. So there’s the pressures of the consumer that growers also have to have to meet as well.”

Then, there’s the potting mix your This is where plants can grow. This is where plants grow. is Peat moss is the most common ingredient, due to its ability to retain nutrients and moisture. Peat moss is not only harvested, but also rapidly disappearing due to fires and other development. This makes its use in horticulture extremely difficult. Because of its extraordinary ability to store and absorb carbon, peat helps protect the environment. However, damaged peat bogs emit at least 2 billion tonnes annually. according Nature.

And also waste is A problem is also present in the horticulture sector, which has a serious single use plastic problem. “Plastics are in everything that we do, from the pots to the bags of soil (to the) plastic tags, plastic sleeves,” Bidwell stated.

"That piece of nature is wrapped in one of the most toxic materials for nature," said plant-shop owner Andreas Szankay on the plastic pots in which plants are grown. He and his partner use biodegradable pots as an alternative.

“That piece of nature is wrapped in one of the most toxic materials for nature,” plantAndreas Szankay, owner of the shop, speaks out about the plastic pots that are used to grow plants. As an alternative, he and his partner use biodegradable containers. Credit: Roosevelt Nguyen

Consider the petroleum-based plastic pots your The arrival of houseplants According The USDA estimates that large nurseries and growers use many millions of plastic containers in one season. They cannot be recycled in many places and 98% end up in landfills. In 2009, the USDA estimated that the container crop industry had produced 4.66 billion units of plastic, or 1.66 billion lbs.

“That piece of nature is wrapped in one of the most toxic materials for nature,” Andreas Szankay said, “a plantBrooklyn-based -shop owner “It doesn’t really have to be that way.”

Alternative is Szankay and Stephanie want to promote biodegradable containers through their shop Pollyn. They replant all of their nursery plants in bio-pots that are made of coconut fiber, cow dung, and paper pulp.

Because bio-pots are healthier, plants stay more healthy “they allow for more air and water exchange,” Andreas explained, and can fertilize a plantDepending on the material used,’s roots. They can be found easily at Amazon or Home Depot. Szankay hopes nurseries that supply them will use them as soon as possible, since they arrive at shops already potted.

Mindful changes

The scheme of things is your The environmental impact of houseplant collection will likely be lower than that of what’s in. your Closet or your fridge. It may seem like someone is adopting sustainable practices, just like the fashion and food industries. is It is difficult to make a dent in a larger problem that will require the largest players to take the lead. If you are looking for a more sustainable indoor gardening space, there are some decisions you can make.

The first thing that you can do is is Take into account your Own “plant Miles’ when adding new items to your Bidwell explains the collection.

Propagating clippings of plants in water or soil to grow new ones is the most eco-friendly way to grow a collection.

For new plants, propagating clippings from plants in water or soil is This is the best way to grow a collection that is eco-friendly. Credit: Wachirawit Iemlerkchai/Moment Radio/Getty Images

Local shopping is good. “so that you’re not using fuel emissions and things like that to procure your plants,” She agreed. Clippings can be used to make new plants. a process called propagation With a little help from internet. “Can you do plant swaps and can you share with neighbors,” Bidwell suggested “especially with some of the houseplants that are super easy to propagate?”

If you do make purchases online, do your Research the origins of your plants. Companies such as Bloomscape in Detroit, and Rooted New York, for example, ship direct from the greenhouse. your plantYou can make your own journey by taking out the shop.

TikTok users suggest alternatives to peat. They include fibrous coconut coir or the carbon-ash residue known by biochar. have been studied Alternatives that are viable.
However, the best thing that you can do is is Take care of your plants. If you don’t have the right conditions and motivation to keep your plants happy, then find a more friendly resident. Recent research has shown that there are a number of ways to keep your plants happy. report According to Business Insider, Americans kill almost half of all houseplants that they bring home. plant Recent demand has led to more deaths in shops and supply chains. Popular social media trends have made rare plants like white variegated Monsteras and pink Philodendron Princesses very sought after. But that’s not because they are easy to find. plant It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should buy it on impulse from Etsy. Caring for plants that are low-light and water-efficient will be easier if they are focused on. your It is easier to own a collection than it is to have high-maintenance varieties.
Not everyone is Perfect! plant You can take your child to the shelter if you’re unable, but it’s wise. plant It appears discolored, wilting, and determined to die. YouTube and TikTok have endless tutorials on how to rescue. your Overwatering or collection of pests — in one viral videoTikTok user at the.plant.baddie offers helpful tips for anxiety-causing rootrot set to a soothing soundtrack with lo-fi beats. Also, you will learn how to repot and how to grow healthy trimmings to make a new plant. plant. (Just make sure you compost anything that you don’t have.

“Being a good steward of your plants is really important,” Bidwell stated. “Bringing (home) living beings is important, and you need to care for them.”