The Hack

Turn your thumbs green and grow your own herbs. Growing a herb garden will not only decrease your carbon footprint but also improve the taste of your food. Rosemary, Thyme, Sage Basil, Chives, Mint, and Rosemary are some of the easiest herbs to grow, requiring minimal effort for a tasty and environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Why is it green?

According to the pre-Trump  Environmental Protection Agency, agricultural, forestry and other land use accounted for 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs); the majority of these GHGs comes from the industrial agricultural sector. At this level, commercial land use is the second largest polluting industry, just behind electricity and agricultural production. Even if it is a just a fraction of the percentage of overall emissions, you can reduce your contribution to one of the largest polluting industries by decreasing your reliance on commercial agriculture.

In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, there are negative externalities, or arduous repercussions not factored into the cost of produce, that are associated with industrial agriculture. These include contaminated groundwater from pesticide run-off, the municipal cost of water treatment and overconsumption of freshwater. Planting your own herbs reduces your personal impact on all of the previously mentioned externalities. (Sidebar:  Have you noticed an increase in fruits, veggies, and herbs being sold in plastic packaging? What is the point of this?!)

Impact and Easiness

Rosemary is low maintenance. For an even easier hack, you can purchase a rosemary plant and keep it healthy by moving it outside during the summer and inside during the winter. The basics:

The basics:

  • Will perform well in poor soil but fertilizer doesn’t hurt
  • Needs 6-8 hours of sunlight each day
  • Is drought tolerant; so let it dry between each watering
  • If you choose not to buy the plant, cut three inches from the tip of the stem, remove leaves one inch from the bottom of the snippet, place it in a soil mixture that contains peat moss and vermiculite. Once the roots emerge (in approximately 3-4 weeks) transfer to a larger pot.

Thyme is drought tolerant and bee friendly. The plant goes dormant during the winter and comes back to life during the summer.

The basics:

  • Thrives in hot weather needs full sunshine
  • Water infrequently
  • If you choose to grow your own from an existing plant then cut a long stem, wrap the stem along a U-Shaped wire, pin wire so that the bottom of the stem is touching the soil. Transfer the Thyme to a large pot when the roots start to grow.

Sage is perfect for gardening in containers which means they are great for urban apartment dwellers. The plant can withstand a lot, including droughts and chilly fall weather. According to the internet “Growing sage makes the slacker gardener look good.”

The basics:

  • Grows best in well-drained and sandy soil
  • Needs full to medium sunlight
  • Wait until soil is dry before watering again
  • To plant on your own plant cut three inches from the tip of the stem, plant in sterile sand or vermiculite, apply a rooting hormone to the part of the stem that is above the soil. Transfer the Sage to larger pot once a ball of roots begins to form.

If some of the previously mentioned externalities seem out of touch, then it might help to consider the effects of climate change and its relation to severe drought. In February, the UN officially declared South Sudan in a state famine; meaning that 80,000 people are currently facing an extreme lack of food. Additionally, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen are nearing the same state.  While climate change is not the only cause famine. Climate scientists have undoubtedly acknowledged the role of climate change in severe droughts and subsequent famines. Therefore, reducing your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in the industrial agriculture sector is an indirect contribution to the alleviation of sever famine. Finally, becoming conscious your capacity to grow and create a delicious meal is an expression of gratitude for your ability to do so.

Sustainability Score


Have you recently decided to take up gardening? Share some of your tips for aspiring green thumbs!

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