Climate change solutions are as simple as rethinking how society uses unproductive landscapes. Roots Down is building a movement that is transforming random, barren, and boring patches of grass and cement into regenerative and bountiful landscapes filled with vegetation. We know that simple upgrades bring us closer to the ultimate goal of saving this planet from irreversible climate change. Regenerative and ecologically sound landscapes reduce greenhouse gasses so the health of our planet can be restored! These solutions also encourage less spending! *wink wink* So, how else can Productive Urban Landscapes (PULs) address climate change?
Building better lawns
The average landowner believes grassy lawns are good for the environment, and easier to maintain and grow than the lush foliage and bright blooms they may desire. Although grass does remove CO2 from the air, mowing, watering, and fertilizing produce copious amounts of CO2. Lawns are a carbon source, meaning they generate more carbon than they store. . Landscaping with perennials, which come back year after year, stores carbon in the soil creating a carbon sink. Perennials require minimal upkeep once established, making them an even cheaper and more convenient option than traditional lawns. Their deeper root system helps pull rainwater into the soil and prevent runoff and pollution associated with traditional landscaping. Choosing perennials native to your area boosts biodiversity and supports pollinator populations. Perennials have the power to heal the planet from excess carbon emitted into the atmosphere.
Building better by reducing transport
Building more useful landscapes means producing sustainable food closer to its final destination, eliminating miles of driving and additional CO2 production. With nearly half of its fruit imported, transportation is the largest contributor to global warming in the US and similar countries. Even after products make it into the US, they are sorted and shipped to distributors, then loaded on a truck to local markets, where consumers must drive additional miles to purchase them. With global food supply chains breaking down under the increased stress of climate change, now is the time to make changes. The best solution is to efficiently use the landscapes around us to grow foods that can nourish our families and our planet.
Building better without pesticides
Eliminating pesticides and herbicides is a critical factor in improving landscapes to help solve climate change.The use of pesticides and herbicides is a dangerous cycle. In addition to killing pollinators needed for food production, pesticides and herbicides usually contain high concentrations of synthetic chemicals which contaminate waste water runoff, contribute to soil erosion, and lead to global warming. A warmer climate means pests and weeds proliferate, increasing demand for these chemical pest management solutions. . According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “30% of global emissions leading to climate change are attributed to agricultural practices including pesticides.” Fumigants are the most popular and hazardous greenhouse gas-producing pesticide, producing nitrous oxide, a gas 300 times more potent than CO2. Responsibly managing landscapes without the use of pesticides and herbicides is beneficial to your health and the health of the planet.
Building better with compost
Composting your organic food and garden waste is very useful for reducing harmful greenhouse gasses. When organic materials break down in landfills they emit methane into the atmosphere, whereas, if these materials are composted, they store carbon and nitrogen. Adding compost to garden plants removes carbon from the atmosphere throughout the plant growth cycle, reduces costs associated with synthetic fertilizers, prevents erosion, retains moisture, and creates healthy soil! Building Productive Urban Landscapes is also about repurposing waste efficiently. Organic waste matter, which we are traditionally conditioned to think of as “trash” or landfill materials, is actually a responsible and sustainable garden input. For more information about composting, please visit the State of Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division.
Building better without tilling
Tilling is an agricultural practice that damages your soil and leads to deforestation.. During tilling, carbon in the soil is exposed to oxygen and released into the atmosphere. This process reduces the carbon in the soil, causes poor aeration and water retention, and increases the need for fertilizers. Why till when there are better ways to produce nutritious food?
Building better together
Maybe these steps seem too small, or maybe they seem insurmountable. The answer to both is that you are not alone. One plant, one yard, one person, won’t solve climate change on their own; but as a community, as a movement, we become a powerful force for positive change. Native pollinator gardens, permaculture farms, no-till vegetable gardens, and food forests across the world provide working models of climate action with Productive Urban Landscapes.