Buy weed, plant a tree

Now that we’ve reached the tipping point on climate change, it's also up to cannabis consumers to make better environmental choices


As fires rage across the world, the United Nations has raised a red flag on climate change. 

For young people growing up surrounded by forest fires, ongoing wars abroad and COVID, it seems like a dystopian nightmare. The “This is Fine” meme on social media has sprung to real life, as Canadians sit at home with a coffee in hand rotating between serial watching Utopia and death scrolling on Twitter.

For many Canadians, that cup of coffee has been replaced by cannabis, as sales skyrocket during COVID lockdowns.

While the merits of “waking and baking” can be debated, what is inarguable is the environmental impact of cannabis

A recent study revealed that indoor cultivation resulted in the CO2-equivalent per kg of dried flower of driving a car for a year. If you think of the 500 tonnes of cannabis that have been destroyed in Canada since legalization, the two add up to a huge amount of waste. 

While the cannabis industry remains in search of economic stability, ecological sustainability and labour rights are oftentimes left by the wayside. Now that we’ve reached the tipping point on climate change, what can we do as cannabis consumers to make better choices? 

Many cannabis companies are employing more energy-efficient lighting, vertical cultivation techniques, controlling pests organically and growing in hybrid greenhouses that work with the sun to reduce their carbon footprint. Others are growing outdoors. Ask your local budtender how your cannabis was grown to make conscious choices on what companies are prioritizing sustainability. 

Packaging is another area of concern. Some producers are making the switch to paper-based pouches instead of the plasticized version. Legalization led to a huge amount of unnecessary plastic waste over the last year, as huge publicly traded companies fought to dominate a very small industry. While they spent millions of dollars on useless swag (420 fidget spinner anyone?), very few companies have stepped up when it comes to the environment. 

But others are going beyond packaging and planting trees in Ontario and BC where forest fires have been raging. National non-profit Tree Canada is working to plant trees in the GTA along with local budtenders. It’s nice to know you can still get high and help plant trees to make the world a more carbon-neutral place.

While planting trees and reducing plastic make for greener cannabis choices, DIY cannabis is the biggest ecological trend.

Growing your own cannabis, and making your own products can be hard for urbanites dealing with tiny condo patios. But with CBD retailing at $30 to $40 for 1000 milligrams, you can achieve your DIY Pinterest dreams of making your own cannabis smoothie, face mask, salve or bath bomb without breaking your pocketbook.

Lisa Campbell is CEO of Mercari Agency Ltd.

@nowtoronto

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