Posted by Gerty the Garden Gnome, on April 25, 2022.
For most of us, gardening is a hobby that helps us relax from our busy lives and be at one with nature. But, are you doing your part to help the planet and reduce your carbon footprint? There may be little things you’re doing such as using peat-based compost, buying plug plants and even mowing the lawn that is affecting the environment without you realising.
Globally, humans cause the emission of 15 million tons of CO2 per day – More than any other time in human history. So, it’s extremely important to find ways we can reduce the use of these fossil fuels that are causing a rapid increase in the earth’s average temperature. There are plenty of small changes you can make that will reduce the impact you and your garden have on the planet. Here’s a list of the top 5 things you can do today to lower your carbon footprint.
Ditch the peat
This is a relatively new movement, so many people don’t realise the effect peat has on the environment or even what it is! Put simply, peatlands store more than twice the carbon stored in all the world’s forests, yet peat continues to be extracted in huge quantities for horticultural use. It’s added to the majority of composts because it holds onto water well. But, there are now lots of options for peat-free composts if you can’t make your own at home.
Composting can keep materials such as food scraps and yard waste from taking up space in landfills where they release the powerful greenhouse gas, methane—a heat-trapping gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide according to The Environmental Defense Fund.
If you are interested in making your own compost, to save money and reduce your carbon footprint, take a look at our compost bins? The 300L Eco-Master is a compost bin manufactured from 100% recycled material, featuring a sleek feed opening. This opening also features a wind-protected lid and is easy to assemble so you can begin composting quicker.
Rethink your garden tools
We all do it, it’s much easier to get out the power strimmer to cut the hedges. But they can clock up a hefty carbon footprint, especially if they’re petrol-powered. Think about swapping your petrol mower for an electric one, and using hand tools rather than hedge trimmers or strimmers. You will spend more time doing these jobs, but you take this time out of your busy day or weekend to relax and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
We all want to get the best out of green space, grow an abundance of fresh veggies and minimise pests. With a wide array of fertilisers and feeds available on the market, to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment it’s vital you choose organic and bug friendly sprays and liquids. So, when they devour your lettuce, it’s tempting to grab the first spray you see. What you may not realise, is even though this will wipe out the slugs in your garden, it will have a knock-on effect on other wildlife. Birds and hedgehogs will then eat these slugs and snails and get poisoned themselves, so why not encourage these natural predators in the first place and ditch the sprays? Try building a hedgehog house to provide them with shelter, and encourage birds with boxes and feeders.
Grow more plants!
All plants absorb carbon dioxide, so the more plants we grow, the more carbon dioxide is absorbed. What better excuse to fill your garden with plants?
Grow climbing plants such as Ivy, Wisteria and Clematis up walls and fences, and grow trees and shrubs wherever possible. Growing plants up the side of your house can help regulate temperatures, keeping you warmer in winter and cooler in summer. This can reduce the use of central heating further reducing your carbon footprint.
Try growing plants from seed too. This saves on plastic and fuel, eliminating the need to travel to the garden centre. Pot-grown plants are usually grown in large nurseries, where they’re exposed to artificial lighting and heat, and then transported in lorries to individual garden centres across the country. It’s important to stop garden centres, but often plants come in large non-recyclable trays. It’s easy to grow from seed if you have a greenhouse or cold-frame and plan ahead.
You may be raising your eyebrows at this one, but hear me out! You might’ve heard the phrase ‘no-dig gardening’ – weeds are controlled by shallow hoeing, hand weeding, contact weedkillers and mulching. Debris is gathered up rather than dug in. Mulches are taken into the soil by soil organisms, and fertilisers are washed in by rain.
Our soils hold huge amounts of carbon dioxide. By digging them we expose soil to the air and release CO2 and other greenhouse gases. So next time you’re about to dig up the earth to weed or rotate the soil, think about all the carbon that will be released into the air!
Whether you’re a beginner gardener, or you’ve been doing it for over 20 years, we can all make little changes. Just changing one little thing when you’re gardening can really help have a positive impact on the earth.