Creating a Carbon-Busting Garden
It’s a pastime that’s really beginning to bloom! Gardening has been practised since time immemorial, but it is beginning to flourish once again. Around 10,000BC, the first civilizations set up enclosures, initially to keep out invasive animals and other people, which then lead to the cultivation of beneficial plants like certain trees, vines, fruit and vegetables. By the 16th Century BC, wealthy individuals began creating gardens for purely aesthetic purposes, as seen in the hieroglyphics of ancient Egyptian tombs. In 290BC, a king (although records debate which king) began the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – one of the seven ancient wonders of the world – and its alleged beauty and extravagance is still revered today. Gardening was commonplace through the Roman and Persian empires, throughout the Middle and Victorian ages and remains prevalent in society today.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a resurgence of gardening. It remained a lifeline for those in isolation, a connection to nature and a stress reliever. One survey of consumers found that 25% of gardeners had started due to the pandemic and sales of seeds and equipment were at an all-time high for some businesses. It served as a reminder that as humans, we are intuitively connected with nature. But the benefits of gardening reach beyond that. Not only does it invite nature into your home, reduce stress, improve heart and mental health, it also reduces our carbon footprint.
To celebrate Garden Day on May 8th, here are some ideas to get you started on your very own carbon-busting garden:
1. Dig a pond
Ponds can help introduce biodiversity, but they can also store carbon. A recent study suggests that in the sediment accumulated at the bottom of ponds, there’s potential to hold more carbon per square metre, than equivalent areas of grassland and woodland.
2. Plant a tree
There are 27 million gardens in the UK alone. If everyone planted one tree, then we would have 27 million more trees without compromising any farmland. Trees can dramatically affect the climate with some trees able to absorb 4 tonnes of CO2 over 20 years. 3. Make compost
Composting food and garden waste stops it from going into landfill or being incinerated. In landfill, biodegradable waste breaks down anaerobically, producing methane, thought to be 70 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. By composting the waste instead, you can reduce the production of this harmful greenhouse gas. You are then left with an excellent fertiliser to help bring your carbon capture garden to life!
4. Grow more plants!
All plants absorb carbon dioxide so the more we plant, the more carbon we absorb. Try growing ivy, trees and shrubs where possible. Growing plants that climb up the side of your house can help regulate the temperature inside, keeping you warm in winter and cool in the summer so you can reduce your use of central heating and further reduce your carbon footprint.
5. Grow your own food
All food has a carbon footprint, determined by how much land was needed to grow it and the travel associated with bringing the food to your shelves. Not only is homegrown food more nutritious but it will reduce the “food miles” and your carbon footprint.
If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry! There are plenty of indoor plants that can help clean the air whilst adding some life to the home. Here’s how to naturally purify your home using plants:
1. English Ivy
Although some see this clambering vine as a weed, it has enormous health benefits if kept indoors. English ivy is adept at cleansing air filled with airborne mould, which can be devastating for asthma sufferers. In one study, an English ivy was put in a container full of mouldy bread and hoovered up a staggering 60% of the mould inside.
2. Peace Lily
Peace lilies are easy and low maintenance to look after. They also happen to remove ammonia – found in plastics, fabrics, dyes and cleaning products – from the atmosphere, which can otherwise cause itchy eyes, and skin, and worsen some asthma patients’ breathing.
3. Spider Plant
Spider plants are adept at ridding the air of formaldehyde, a carcinogen used to treat wooden furniture. They can also remove xylene, a powerful chemical found in many household cleaning products and detergents. In one test, NASA found that spider plants removed 95% of toxic air from a sealed chamber in only 24 hours.
Schefflera, soak up toxins like benzene – most commonly found in cigarette smoke, diesel exhausts, detergents and pesticides. Benzene can also be emitted from gas hobs, so it’s a great idea to place one in the kitchen.
5. Pineapple Plant
These plants deliver much more than just a tropical look. Like most plants, they need carbon dioxide to grow, but they have no use at all for oxygen, which is created as a waste product of plant growth. They use all CO2 they breathe in, removing it from the air, and release pure, filtered oxygen back into the room. If that wasn’t enough, they can also improve your snoring! Snoring happens when your airways narrow while you sleep, but pineapple plants improve the air so much during the night that airways become looser, helping you breathe smoothly and quietly.
Gardening brings solace alongside multiple other benefits when we allow nature into our homes, reminding us of the delicate balance on our planet.As prophesised by Chief Seattle in 1854,“Humans merely share the Earth, we can only protect the land, not own it”.So, this May 8th, take some time to reconnect with nature, indulge in some gardening and remember our role, as caretakers.
The carbon capture and air purifying benefits found in the natural world are undeniable. However, with time almost up in our fight against climate change, we can’t rely on nature, or even a switch from fossil fuels alone. Low-energy carbon capture technology, such as Nuada, is needed to decarbonise highly polluting, but critical, industries such as cement production. Concrete production accounts for roughly 8% of global CO2 emissions, but it is also one of the world’s most-consumed resources, second only to water, and essential for virtually every building project, not least key civil infrastructure. In this article, MOF Technologies Co-CEO, Dr Jose Casaban, explores how low-carbon cement is now a reality.