When people think of things that are harmful to our environment the first few things that come to mind are fossil fuels, deforestation, agriculture, and landfills. Aside from these, there are some industries that are overlooked in how their practices impact the environment.
A big industry that is overlooked is the cannabis industry.
Despite the multitude of nicknames (i.e., weed, grass, flower) for Marijuana might suggest, there is a large amount of effort needed to be environmentally friendly while growing the plant. When growing Cannabis, there is a high demand for water, land, artificial lighting, and single-use packaging for the product. This can leave a large environmental footprint if producers do not take the time to consider environmental impacts.
Here are some tips to reduce your carbon footprint while working in the cannabis industry:
Reduce high levels of waste
Because of the regulations that have been placed on the legal marijuana market, it is difficult for cannabis cultivation and other production efforts to be sustainable and eco-friendly. The cannabis industry is new and ever-changing, so there is room for more eco-friendly alternatives to be explored all over the industry. It’s a team effort, and growers and consumers both need to take the extra steps towards educating themselves on the ways they can affect the planet negatively. It is up to all of us in the cannabis community to try to reduce our footprint and treat our planet with kindness.
Reduce energy consumption
In states where growers can’t legally grow cannabis outdoors, cultivators are forced into a utilizing a large amount of energy to grow indoors. Indoor plants require energy-intensive grow lights. The plants need upwards of 18 hours per day when in the vegetative stage and 12 hours a day when flowering. The energy from the lights, power for the fans, heating systems, air-conditioners, and dehumidifiers can add up quickly.
The best way for the legal cannabis industry to do its part in protecting our planet is to move weed production from indoor facilities to greenhouses and the great outdoors. Until then, there are only a few options that growers can try to do their part:
- Switching to LED grow lights to consume less energy, keep temperatures lower, and reduce water lost to evaporation;
- Adopting solar and wind energy to fuel lighting technologies; and
- Using chilled water systems for dehumidification and cooling as opposed to traditional heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
Minimize water usage and chemical exposure
While outdoor growing is more energy-efficient, there are still some environmental downsides. Water depletion and the use of pesticides are two major concepts to keep in mind in the cultivation industry. Marijuana is an especially water-thirsty plant so cultivation can be highly water intensive. In addition to excessive water usage, it’s always important to be mindful of hidden chemicals and pesticides involved in the products we are consuming and that can be applied to any industry.
De-emphasize the use of plastics
The way marijuana is packaged also plays a role in the cannabis industry’s carbon footprint.
It is legally required to provide consumers with child-proofed packaging and clear labeling. Because of this, there’s a concerning amount of plastic waste, contributing to an estimated 150 million tons of cannabis waste produced annually. As the cannabis industry is becoming a bigger part of our living planet, the need for sustainable packaging solutions has never been greater.
Finally, make an effort to support the businesses that are trying to already reduce their carbon footprint in the cannabis industry. See the full article linked to view a few more alternatives and tips to keep our planet happy so we can continue to cultivate the plant we love.
Comment below if you know of better ways, we can do our part for helping the environment.