What are Eco-Friendly Houseplants?
It depends who you ask. For a long time, the conventional wisdom was that eco-friendly houseplants were good because they purified the air. Unfortunately, houseplants do not actually improve the air quality of indoor spaces. Depending on how you find and care for your houseplants, some of the materials may not be sustainable, either. Nevertheless, houseplants can improve our mood and mental health, and that can lead to more eco-friendly choices in other areas of our lives. Here is what you need to know about the best practices to make sure your houseplants are good for the environment.
Air Purification and Carbon Removal
The idea that houseplants are good for the environment is based largely on a NASA study from the late 1980s that looked at trying to use plants to scrub the air in a closed environment. Technically, it’s true that houseplants remove carbon and pollutants from the air, while releasing oxygen. Because many types of houseplants are high photosynthesis plants, they are more efficient at this process. However, most or all of the air in your home or office space is replaced much too quickly for houseplants to have any measurable impact on the indoor air quality.
Reducing Delivery Costs for Eco-Friendly Houseplants
There may be an environmental cost to houseplants if you’re ordering plants online that need special packaging and are being shipped from a remote location. Of course, making a separate trip to the local plant store has its own carbon footprint, especially if you’re making the trip every week for replacement plants. The best option for the environment is also the one that’s free. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors who have enthusiasm for houseplants and can give you a plant they’ve propagated from their own collection.
Pots and Soils that are Good for the Environment
Along with the transportation and lifecycle costs of houseplant deliveries, most types of houseplant pots can’t be recycled. Even plastic pots are often deemed contaminated when not thoroughly cleaned and black plastic can get missed by the sorting machine. Unless you know the exact policies and infrastructure at your local recycling center, you can’t assume any used plant pots will get recycled. If you’re willing to take the extra step of dropping off the containers, you may be to find a plant container recycling program in your area. Otherwise, it’s best to reuse the pot or else throw it away.
For eco-friendly houseplant soils, the most important thing is to avoid peat moss. Peat is not the same as soil, and it’s not a sustainable resource. While it can certainly help your plants grow and stay healthy, it comes at an environmental cost. Plus, there are plenty of soil alternatives for peat, and you can find a suitable replacement for any type of houseplant.
Finding and Caring for Houseplants
When it comes to finding houseplants that are good for the environment, we recommend looking at all your options. When it makes sense to do so, we buy some of our houseplants online and some of them from local plant shops. We also love to trade houseplants with other people. We try to give every houseplant an environment in which they can thrive, but we also like to change up our space with new plants at least a few times a year. We’ve thrown out a few terra cotta pots in our time, but we’ve also learned to scrounge, cherish, and give away more of our houseplant pots over the years.