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    How Regenerative Gardening Will Help Fight Climate Change Now

Introduction

There is no question that the earth’s climate is changing. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased almost 50 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – a greater quantity in a little less than 200 years than what occurred naturally over the previous 20,000 years. This dramatic increase in CO2 has significantly changed weather patterns across the globe, altering the environment and affecting every living thing within it.

The climate change issue has long been a lightning rod for heated debates which have increased public interest far beyond just the stereotypical “tree huggers” and others in the environmental movement. Today, average citizens are growing increasingly concerned and looking for ways they can help slow the progress of climate destabilization by reducing their carbon footprint. And many are surprised to find that part of the solution is as close as their backyard.

In this eBook we’re going to explore our complex, synergistic relationship with the natural world, the ways we directly and indirectly affect it, and what we can do individually to lessen our impact and help create positive change through our landscape development and care decisions.

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Download your personal copy of this educational eBook.

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We hope you enjoy reading How Regenerative Gardening Will Help Fight Climate Change Now.

This eBooks provides educational insights for environmentally-conscious homeowners interested in making a difference.

Fill out the form to get your copy today.

Putting Carbon in its Place

When we talk about carbon dioxide, many people automatically think about it in industrial and mechanical terms – humans and fossil fuels create harmful levels of carbon dioxide and therefore technological solutions are needed to reduce them. And that is certainly true. But our relationship with carbon dioxide is much more complex than that. Carbon, in all its forms, is part of nature and nature, in large part, holds the key to its regulation through a process called carbon sequestration. This is the process of pulling carbon out of the air and storing it underground. It’s what plants do through photosynthesis – processing atmospheric carbon dioxide and transferring it into the soil and sedimentary rock where it is safely stored.

The problem is, humans have little regard for plant life and we continue to ignore and eliminate it at our peril. Illegal and unregulated deforestation continues at an alarming rate as loggers systematically remove acres of valuable trees in the Amazon rainforest, long considered the “lungs’’ of the world that provides a significant percentage of oxygen to our atmosphere. Likewise, industrial agricultural processes with their reliance on mechanization and chemical solutions also contribute to rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels. It is absolutely critical that we, as a species, dramatically change course and begin to reduce our dependence on harmful industrial and commercial processes. We need to support more natural solutions that can start to reverse the carbon-based damage and have a positive effect on the environment and the planet as a whole.

It all starts with a fundamental shift in our mindset. We must embrace the fact that humans are an integral part of nature and that the most effective and long-lasting solutions will be found in nature. Salvation, in part, lies in the landscape.

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Affecting Change: False Starts and Positive Paths

There has been no shortage of proposed solutions to slow human-influenced climate change over the years. It started decades ago with a push to recycle paper, plastic, and glass. What started as a noble idea, over time fell victim to reality as the sheer quantity and variety of plastics, glass, and paper overwhelmed recycling systems, increasing costs and slowing the introduction of recycled materials back into production and product life cycles.

Reducing carbon emissions became the cause for many environmental organizations, but that, too, has its limitations. Electric vehicles are still expensive and the batteries needed to run them continue to be less than sufficient. At the end of their lives, these vehicles still need to be recycled and their toxic battery components safely disposed of. Public transportation systems, designed to reduce our dependence upon fossil-fuel-burning vehicles, aren’t able to fully meet the needs of the people who depend on them and those who would like to use them but can’t. Substantial, universal emission reduction remains frustratingly elusive.

Even the drive to buy locally in an effort to support local economies and reduce
transportation emissions has its stumbling blocks. It’s hard for local small businesses to compete with behemoths such as Amazon and its focus on low price and fast delivery. Environmentally-aware companies producing high-quality, low-impact goods find it difficult to go up against companies that can take advantage of high-volume, high-efficiency, and high-impact manufacturing methods to deliver similar products more reliably and at a better price.

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So what’s an environmentally-conscious person who wants to reduce their carbon footprint and have some kind of meaningful impact on the environment to do? Look to Mother Nature for the answers.

It starts with recognizing the dangers of how we approach daily life. Many of the products we use and the processes surrounding how we obtain them are actually detrimental to both our health and the planet’s. Take the food we eat. Much of it is produced on a massive scale that requires highly mechanized systems and chemical additives and stabilizers to transport and distribute it. These highly-processed items are not so much food as they are manufactured products that we’re ingesting, risking our health and wellness.

Instead, we need to think of ourselves as part of the natural world and that it’s important for us to be healthy organisms so we, in turn, can help other species be healthy organisms as well. As our processes and systems become healthier we are, in fact, contributing to the health of other living things and the overall health of the planet in a spiral of healing that all starts with us. Our actions are the positive path to a healthy, sustainable, greener planet.

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Regenerative Landscaping: Breathing New Life Into the Soil

If we think of the Earth as a complex living organism, then the soil is its flesh. Just as our flesh contains the circulatory system that brings life-sustaining nutrients to every part of our bodies, so too does the planet have its own circulatory systems. One of these is the carbon cycle, which circulates that essential component of all living things – carbon -- throughout the biosphere. As we mentioned above, carbon sequestration is the process by which nature regulates carbon as it’s converted, circulated, and stored for later release.

Unfortunately, human interference has disrupted the carbon cycle to some extent, causing more carbon to be released into the atmosphere than nature normally allows, creating the greenhouse effect that is contributing to a warming planet. Fortunately, we can help boost carbon sequestration through a technique called regenerative landscaping.

Because carbon dioxide can be stored in the soil, a regenerative landscape has the
potential to help replace the tens of billions of tons of soil carbon lost to the atmosphere. The top three feet of soil contains an incredible amount of carbon – and it can hold much more. If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to realize that you actually own one of the most potent and effective tools in the world for carbon sequestration – soil. In the average residential yard, rebuilding and increasing organic matter in the top 12 inches of topsoil by just 1% could remove one ton or more of carbon from the atmosphere. By focusing on the interaction of plants and soil biology, we can increase organic matter and help balance and
regenerate soil. Healthy soil = healthy planet.

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Regenerative landscaping provides a number of positive benefits for the environment,
including:

  • A more sustainable landscape because it features a diverse assortment of plants that
    build and improve the soil, helping it maximize carbon retention
  • Improved moisture and erosion control, requiring far less water, reducing irrigation
    and energy needs
  • Elimination of harmful chemical use through organic soil-building and pest
    control techniques that take advantage of natural solutions such as pest and
    disease resistant plantings

A happier, healthier environment that is sustainable and drought-tolerant to improve air quality and provide an attractive home for wildlife and declining pollinators, such as honey bees.

Regenerative landscapes restore the environment and encourage long-term sustainability, increased biodiversity, and enhanced resilience. A well-designed regenerative landscape can also complement your property, reduce your water and maintenance costs, and create seamless yet visually pleasing harmony with surrounding natural open spaces.

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Developing Your Own Regenerative Strategy

Developing a regenerative strategy that can work for you and your family requires a holistic approach that goes beyond simply choosing an environmentally-friendly landscape technique. It’s like dropping a pebble into a pool of water – embracing a regenerative philosophy starts with the individual and ripples out to the family, neighborhood, community, and eventually the whole planet.

It helps to think hyper-locally – what can I do and buy to support the community where I live and work? Are there local organizations I can contribute time and money to rather than automatically looking to more visible, higher profile national or international organizations? While it’s certainly laudable to support larger organizations that do good work, in all likelihood you can achieve a greater impact by focusing your primary assistance locally.

The regenerative ripple effect starts with improving your own health and wellbeing first, then that of those closest to you, proceeding outward to supporting and improving your community through things such as conservation efforts; food pantry assistance; and purchasing healthy, local products through a community CSA co-op or farmers market. These small, incremental efforts can result in big changes.

In fact, if we all make just one small change, the effect of that is multiplied exponentially by the number of other people making small changes -- suddenly the impact is significant because all those small changes add up. As a bonus, achieving one small victory creates something called the “winner effect.” This is the psychological impact of a small win that creates a mindset that says “Hey! I can do this! Let me try something else...”

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Results You Can Achieve When Action Meets Ideas

As growing numbers of individuals join the movement to reduce our collective carbon footprint and slow climate change, questions inevitably pop up about the best ways to affect positive change in our daily lives as well as in developing and maintaining the landscape.

The only ways to make a real impact is to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and financially support organizations that are doing the same. Collectively, we can make our voices heard with our actions and our dollars. It’s important to remember that you and your actions matter and you can make a difference when you get in the game.

The best way to approach this is to think of the results you’d like to achieve and then consider the most effective ways to obtain them. Let’s take a closer look at three of the fundamental changes we can embrace that will make a real difference:

1. REDUCE YOUR HOME’S IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Many homeowners think the first thing to do is get off the grid and go solar or utilize less-impactful energy alternatives such as geothermal heat. However the most impactful choice is to adopt regenerative landscaping as a way to make a number of long-term, positive changes, including improving the soil and biomass while boosting the earth’s ability to safely store carbon.

Consider moving to more organic and natural landscape and garden practices.
Conventional practices utilize synthetic products and highly mechanized systems which reduce the soil’s ability to hold water and combat the effects of drought. Synthetic chemical fertilizers provide an infusion of nutrients to the plants, but they do nothing for soil texture and do little to build the long-term nutrient capacity of the soil, inhibiting carbon sequestration while harming the resident biological life. These chemical fertilizers, which are polluting to manufacture, only give plants a quick boost and then they may leach through the soil or wash off with the soil as it erodes in the rainy season, contributing to water pollution.

Planting ornamental trees and stabilizing shrubs as garden companions will provide a long-term, positive effect on the environment. In addition to helping cool and stabilize your immediate ecosystem, they are major processors of carbon dioxide and producers of oxygen – great for jump-starting a healthier overall environment.

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2. SUPPORT THE LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND CLIMATE-FRIENDLY ECONOMY

Big changes start small. By adopting a hyper-local strategy and patronizing your local small businesses, you can help stabilize and support the local job market, keeping money in your community where it can do the most good. Local businesses employ a local workforce and often require less long-distance transportation which together help reduce carbon emissions while supporting the local economy.

Seek out and support companies and organizations that make climate part of their
mission. That includes participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. By supporting a CSA cooperative and farmers market you help reduce the negative impact of industrial agriculture, preserve local farming, support the local economy, and provide your family with more nutritious food. All of this helps reduce our overall impact on the environment, contributing to a healthier planet.

3. BUILD A GENERATION OF CLIMATE-AWARE AND NATURE-LOVING CITIZENS

Get your children involved in gardening at a young age. Introducing them to nature, how our ecosystem works, and how every living thing is dependent upon other living things helps them develop a healthy respect and understanding of the beauty of nature and the joys of working in the soil. It destigmatizes getting dirty and builds a lifetime connection with their home - planet earth.

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Embrace all aspects of the great outdoors. Start a home garden or participate in a
community garden. Take family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors on walks and hikes to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and nature in all its glory. People who are aware of and enjoy nature more tend to be more empathetic and caring, eager to restore and take care of that precious and valuable resource found on our planet.

Sustainable community projects are a great way to get everyone involved. Pocket parks are becoming increasingly popular for reintroducing nature into developed environments. These small – even tiny – parks are little gems of natural beauty that can be developed in abandoned lots, empty corners, and other unused or under-used municipal, commercial, and residential properties.

Encourage your teens and young adults to consider summer work at community farms, garden centers, and landscape companies as gainful employment while they are focused on their learning. These are good and respectable jobs that will teach young people to handle working hard physically for extended periods of time while being a productive member of a team. Similar to being involved in sports, working in the green industry provides life lessons that will be valuable as they finish high school and college and have to make real world decisions. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing something about the planet you live on and that you are physically and mentally capable of doing physical labor and achieving results with fellow workers. Taken a step further, it is an industry that provides many career opportunities - design, construction, horticulture, business, management, and
finance just to name a few.

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Download your personal copy of this educational eBook.

regenerative-gardening-hero-image

We hope you enjoy reading How Regenerative Gardening Will Help Fight Climate Change Now.

This eBooks provides educational insights for environmentally-conscious homeowners interested in making a difference.

Fill out the form to get your copy today.