This past weekend, I had the opportunity to address the nursery industry and home gardeners on the subject of sustainability. Although a thousand miles or more separated these two events, and the story told a bit differently, the message was the same; we are consuming natural resources at an unsustainable rate. And without the combined efforts of gardeners and the industry that supplies our habit (along with help from the rest of the world) we won’t be leaving behind these resources for future generations.
I don’t mean to sound as though we’re the ones responsible for this problem. But it is ironic, that as a group, we are the ones doing so much to beautify this planet, and we do so with such good intentions. Unfortunately, for many of us, that process includes the use of excessive chemicals, equipment that pollutes the air, consumptive practices that deplete water resources and excessive waste burdening our landfills.
The underlying message from my research on sustainability and gardening is that as a group, we really want to be more eco-friendly. Environmental stewardship, we say, is either very important or somewhat important according to studies conducted by the National Gardening Association. Other surveys support these claims. The truth is, we have a long way to go. Although we say it’s important, only a small percentage of those claiming its importance even know what to do to make a difference. I find that discouraging yet I see tremendous opportunity.
Some of the reasons we’re not there yet? Gardening consumers still question the effectiveness of more eco-friendly products. Others think they’re too expensive. Some are confused by all the claims (a.k.a. greenwashing) while others either don’t have enough information or they can’t find the products on the store shelves.
The good news is, all of these claims can be resolved…in time. How quickly depends on many things. But one thing I know, it will take the collective efforts of people in the industry as well as home gardeners and weekend warriors to walk their talk and get the message out to others.
Events like the Sustainability conference in Frisco, TX and the Green Festival in Washington, D.C are encouraging. The DC conference was exciting and the buzz from the vendors and attendees was contagious. The festival is growing in size every year and the momentum is growing. Gardeners want to do the right thing and events like these are a reassuring reminder of that.
joegardener.com; growing a greener world