5 Ways Interiorscapers Can Think Green

This maybe horticulture profiling, but I’m going to say it anyway.  People like myself, in the foliage and flower industry, are naturally inclined to protect nature, animals, and our natural resources.

It irritates me when I see people toss their finished cigarette butts onto the ground or in one of my planters.  I want to do everything I can to help recycle, save energy and somehow make the earth a little better place to live.  When I think about those last words, sometimes I doubt my small scale of green habits makes a difference. I’m just one person.  Luckily, the positive side of me speaks up, realizing that if there are thousands or possibly a million individuals doing the same small scale green habits – then the benefits to our environment can grow exponentially.

Here are five easy ways interiorscapers can help green up our industry even more.

Recycle Water

I make it a point to use leftover water instead of pouring it down the drain. I’ll take the water I didn’t finish from lunch and use it to water my ficus bonsai on my desk.  If you have pets like I do, I will use the old dirty water from their bowls and take care of more plants.  One pet peeve of mine is when people leave the faucet running full blast while brushing their teeth.  Believe me, I’m all for oral hygiene, but if the the faucet is turned off until the final rinse an average of 3-5 gallons can be saved.  That is enough water to fill two of my watering cans. If just five thousand people did the same thing when brushing twice a day, over 40,000 gallons could be preserved in one day alone.  If those same people continued this habit for a year, that number grows to 14,600,000 gallons.

Trying to take it a step further and save even more water, I looked into buying one of those rain catcher barrels.  After considering the price and my home’s lack of gutters to fill these barrels, it didn’t seem to be a viable option…until a simple solution came to me.  When a good rain storm comes along, I now take all my flower buckets from the closet and place them underneath the roof line. Depending how much is collected, I use it immediately to water plants or empty the rain-filled containers into a covered thirty gallon trash can for future use.  Not only does this help conserve water, rainwater is actually more beneficial for plants than tap water.

Offer Eco-Friendly Options

Whenever possible, I offer my client’s seeking new plant containers some eco-friendly options. It makes sense to pair nature with the use of eco-friendly pots for the complete package.  More and more vendors are offering eco-benefitting container lines that use earth friendly materials such as bamboo, biodegradable rice hulls or recycled plastic.  When I have to purchase starter plants, I notice more nurseries choosing biodegradable containers over the traditional hard plastic ones that won’t break down in landfills for years and years.  Who would have ever thought that you would be able to purchase starter pots made from cow manure?  Called Cowpots, two dairy farmers developed this biodegradable container that returns nutrients into the soil while giving your starter plant a healthier transition into the ground resulting in bigger and better foliage.  But don’t worry, although manufactured from cow droppings, Cowpots don’t smell like manure.

Say “No” to STYROFOAM

For another simple change, consider bringing your own coffee mug or drinking glass to work to cut down on the use of Styrofoam use.  If you spend most of your day travelling, you should note that many convenience stores offer cheap refills when you purchase and use their store mug. This not only allows you keep more change in your pocket  it also helps reduce the amount of harmful material in our dump sites.

reuse and upcycle

How many of us ladies have a small collection of clear glass vases that we saved from Valentine’s Day (or when our significant other screwed up)?  I know I have a few of those and they occupy the high cabinet above the fridge never to be seen again.  Instead of owning a vase graveyard, I offer my customers a discount on their plant arrangement when they bring a container from home.  I also encourage my customers to sell me their vase collections. This saves me from buying new, more expensive ones and puts a little money back in their pockets as well.  This is a win-win-win situation for my customer, for my bottom dollar and the environment.

Build a Compost

I use to find myself throwing out industrial size trash bags full of leaf debris every time I finished work.  And while the plant material itself doesn’t have negative consequences to the land, the plastic bag containing it sure does. That was a lot of trash bags I was adding to the landfill pile.  So when composting became a trend, it dawned on me, I was tossing away perfect composting material that I can reuse for my garden.  At first I thought you had to invest in the fancy composting bin to achieve compost but really, all you need is a small outdoor space that you can start a pile.

Beware: a compost pile that is open may get really ripe at times.  Keep it in a secluded area in order to avoid the rotting fruit smell mixed with musty decaying meat.  (If you don’t like your neighbors, you could always consider building your compost pile next to their yard).

Other Ideas

The amount of small changes we can make to improve our planet are endless.  Some ideas include purchasing products made from recycled material, changing old light bulbs to energy efficient ones, riding your bike instead of taking the car, turning off the lights in unused spaces, not using the toilet as a trash can, donating old items and plants to a charity instead of the trash (which also provides you with a tax deduction).  The next time you find yourself getting discouraged because you’re the only one in the office that makes an effort to separate the cardboard from the trash, remember I’m right there with you.

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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