Marijuana growing used to be seen as a revolutionary act, linked to hippies, communes, and environmentalism.
Caring about the environment was a big part of the marijuana vibe.
Now marijuana growing is big business.
And as with almost all business, the cannabis grow industry hurts the environment.
I grow 80% of my marijuana indoors.
I’m sucking down megawatts of electricity generated by coal, dammed rivers, or nuclear power plants.
Manufacturing and shipping equipment and supplies for marijuana growing harms the environment.
I wasn’t surprised when scientists released an aerial surveillance video showing industrial marijuana grows in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle rip up the environment.
I love seeing marijuana trees that yield four pounds of outdoor bud each.
When you see marijuana trees, you have to admire big-scale outdoor growing and all the irrigation tubing, pump timers, guard wire, and water it takes to do it.
It’s nice that outdoor marijuana growers are using free, clean sunshine and wind instead of fans and HID lights.
But for all that cannabliss, I see too many pot growers who chainsaw entire hillsides, ruin streams, groundwater, and springs, were dump ferts and pesticides into the environment, have shitty vehicles rusting away, kill animals, cause erosion and soil loss.
It was sloppy and unnecessary damage.
They could have grown the same number of plants and done far less, if any, damage.
All the same, I get it that the 3,000 watts of marijuana-growing power I run for my grow op are created by a coal-fired power plant south of me that sends poison into the air that we breathe around here.
I switched from HID to LEDs, and I recycle my water.
But I know my marijuana grow op harms the environment anyway.
Of course, we all condemn massive industrial outdoor grows run by criminal cartels from Mexico. They’ve devastated thousands of acres of national forest and private land.
Mexican criminal cartel growers rip forests apart, plant thousands of plants, use toxic pesticides, and will shoot your a** no questions asked if you stumble upon their grow operation.
Their crazy bad outdoor grow ops, along with the careless industrial marijuana outdoor grows operated by American citizens, give marijuana a bad name.
Law enforcement uses these operations to justify military-style anti-marijuana helicopter patrols.
How to be an environmentalist marijuana grower? Consider these tactics:
- Use the most-effective hydroponics materials and methods to get the most buds from each plant. Efficiency = Green.
- Insulate and otherwise retrofit grow house so it uses as little energy as possible. Heavily insulate and RFI shield your attic and walls. Recycle heat. Shade trees. Get high-SEER AC.
- Use the most energy-efficient lighting and light cycles to suck down as few watts as possible while delivering maximum firepower for your plants. Consider light movers. Maximize indoor grow reflectivity factor. Use Chameleon plasma and HID.
- Recycle root zone materials using SensiZyme and methods that allow more than one crop cycle for the materials. Can be done even with rockwool if you’re willing to handle the material and clean it properly.
- Never use synthetic or long-lasting herbicides or pesticides in grow room, home or outdoor property.
- If growing outdoors, use permaculture and deep ecology principles.
- If you decide to grow, give it your best shot at leaving that place beautiful, healthy, and clean.
- Organic is less environmentally harmful than pure hydroponics, and its environmental advantage increases if you grow organically outdoors, using locally sourced organic materials.
- Use solar and wind power to generate electricity whenever possible.
- Live an environmentally-responsible lifestyle that avoids large vehicles, excess consumption, and needless harm to air, water, land.
- Volunteer for environmental organizations and provide funding to environmental organizations, activists, causes.
Of course, the concern about environmentally-harmful outdoor marijuana farms reflects society’s prejudice against marijuana.
A high-end, ecologically responsible marijuana plantation is more environmentally-safe than a similar acreage of wine grapes.
Wine grape growing uses huge amounts of toxic pesticides and fungicides that transfer into the grapes, while also harming the environment and vineyard workers.
Yet I haven’t seen anyone making aerial videos showing how the wine grape industry messes up the environment in wine regions like California’s Napa Valley.
Agriculture, especially industrial GMO agriculture, greatly harms the land.
I love marijuana growing, but I’ve cut down trees in the forest to plant a patch of weed.
I made a nice, green, alive place into kind of an ugly, dead place.
But my plants needed light.
And I got a killer harvest, without mold.
I wish I could run thousands of watts of grow lights off of some magical energy source that costs nothing and has no negative environmental impacts.
One thing’s for sure…I feel grateful every day that I can source electricity, hydroponics nutrients, reverse osmosis water, HID bulbs, and other crucial supplies that make my marijuana growing possible.
But I’m harming the environment, and I need to do whatever I can to lessen my ecological impacts.