Written by features writer Jeff Klingman
Sustainability is a growing concern in all industries, and growing cannabis is very much included. But beyond just saving the planet, there are commercial advantages to putting the environment first. Using less energy can cut costs along with carbon emitted. Embracing eco-friendly principals can be a marketing opportunity, consuming fewer resources to appeal to conscious weed consumers.
Here’s a quick rundown of the key things to consider when trying to keep your weed biz green.
Cut the Power
Cultivating cannabis can also produce a vast carbon footprint. Some stats place the energy used by the typical indoor cannabis grow at 18 times the amount used by a average family home. Power’s needed to control the room temperature, gun the ventilation systems, and most significantly, to burn the grow lights that account for about 80% of energy use. Energy saving LED lights can nearly cut that in half. Despite early industry skepticism towards the quality of crops that result, the technology has been the beneficiary of some serious R&D budget that’s helped bridge the gap, and cheaper, cleaner OLED tech (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) loom on the horizon. If it’s an option, outdoor growing uses far less electricity. The sun is cordless, after all.
Watch the Water
If you are growing pot outdoors, you’re also gonna use a lot of water. In peak season, California’s massive MJ market uses around 60 million gallons…a day. That’s especially touchy for the rain-starved state, where first in the country regulations establishing oversight on how cannabis cultivators use and divert water were passed in 2017. Finding ways to waste less water before states crack down could be a smart move. Mulch use, night watering, drip irrigation, and smart plant placement can all increase efficiency. A process called Closed Circuit Desalination goes way further, purifying runoff water and putting it back to work. CCD has gained traction among some growers, like Colorado’s Kind Love dispensary, who claim to recover 97% of the water run off in the grow process, or about 22 thousand gallons worth. The ultimate in conservation utility might be aquaponic farming, a water-stingy yet soil-less grow method that comes with the added benefit of growing fresh fish along with your kush.
An Organic Opportunity
Most marijuana grown in the U.S.—legally or not—is likely treated with chemicals. Your vape pulls, space cakes, or pre-rolled Js, may well be coming with traces of gnarly pesticides that are harmful in the longterm. And where other agricultural industries could rely on some level of national regulation from the EPA, the national illegality of weed means that sprays for pests or fungus aren’t researched with federal funding or subject to strict standardization. Using harmless alternatives, such as Neem oil or sprayed alcohol to croak bugs, and adhering to general organic standards makes good sense for health and profit. The organic food and drink industry is projected to pull in a tidy $320.5 billion by 2025. Whoever becomes the Whole Foods of legal weed might well reap some serious rewards.
Photo credit Instagram