The Benefits of all Things Green
One of the simplest ways to reduce the effects of pollution is to increase flora. Trees, shrubs, an herb garden, houseplants, vegetable crops, decorative flowers, — plants helps us reduce pollution. How? They reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, they increase oxygen, and they help eliminate toxins. Not only do they provide nourishment for the entire food chain as well as the earth itself, but they are a safe and effective solution to some of our biggest environmental problems, improving both outdoor and indoor environments.
Reducing CO2 Emissions
Just as we need oxygen to survive, and a richly oxygenated environment to thrive, plants need carbon dioxide. Fortunately, there is a perfect balance between flora and fauna; we need oxygen, but release carbon dioxide while plants need carbon dioxide, and give off oxygen. Plants enhance our environment, just as we enhance theirs.
This perfect balance is offset by the release of extra carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels and from deforestation. Carbon dioxide that would have naturally been released over a period of millions of years is now being released within a few centuries as fuel is burned. Also, when massive numbers of trees are felled, excessive amounts of CO2 gas are being released into the air, combined with the loss of trees which would have absorbed the carbon dioxide and released oxygen. The natural cycle is offset by our present use of the earth's resources. As a result, the extra emissions trap heat, leading to a shift in temperature and weather patterns, known as global warming.
Large scale reforestation, especially with the creation of diverse ecosystems in mind, is a positive step that nations, organizations, and corporations can take to use plants to help us reduce pollution. As individuals, we can plant herbs, flowers, vegetables, even trees, in our communities and as personal landscaping to contribute to creating a natural balance and a cleaner planet.
Benefits of House Plants
Not only can plants help to reduce the effects of pollution outside, but they can improve an indoor environment as well. Houseplants will help to oxygenate the air, and offset the negative effects of contaminates from furniture, carpets, pets, and heating and cooling systems. They will basically freshen the air and filter out noxious gases, which are particularly harmful to sensitive people, causing headaches, dizziness, and respiratory irritation.
Look for plants that are ideal for air purification and the indoor environment. One plant can generally contribute to one hundred square feet, which translates to two to three plants per room. Great houseplants include:
- English ivy
- Aloe vera
- Spider plants
- Boston fern
- Peace lily
- Reed palm
- Weeping fig
Gardening Benefits Everyone
Gardening and landscaping is a wonderful way to add beauty and serenity to the home, and even for a personal supply of organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs; but, it is also a way to make a cleaner planet. Make the effort to add more green to your personal space, the greater variety the better. Try planting a pear tree in the backyard, a lavender bush to border the house, a flower garden out front. Build on the foliage that is already there, and make a goal to increase it every year. It is amazing how plants help us reduce pollution, improve our environment, and make the world a little more beautiful for everyone.
"How to Reduce Air Pollutants at Home and at Work." <docshop.com/2009/05/18/how-to-reduce-air-pollutants-at-home-and-at-work>
"CO2 Pollution and Global Warming." (Environmental Chemistry) <environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/environmental/200611CO2globalwarming>
Union of Concerned Scientists <ucsusa.org/global_warming/global_warming_101>
photo credit: Susie (CC/flickr)