With climate change and perpetual drought threatening the future of agricultural and farming industries in Australia, I firmly believe that we, as humans, must become more self and ecologically sustainable with our food sourcing. Looking at the short term future, roughly the next 12-18 months, people will need to start considering eating less meat and growing their own fresh produce to not only prepare for the impacts of climate change on farming industries, but to also reduce plastic wastage found on fresh produce in supermarkets. Currently, the average Australian is consuming around 100 kilograms of meat per year (ABARES, 2019). This is an incredibly unsustainable amount, as meat production is “placing significant pressure on finite global resources, ecosystems and it is contributing to climate change,” according to Macdiarmid, Douglas & Campbell (2016). This is due to livestock production having impacts on “air and water quality, ocean health, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on regional to global scales… It is the largest use of land globally” (Eshel, Shepon, Makov & Milo, 2014). This threat to our natural resources, and proliferation of pollutants contributing to climate change, is heavily underrepresented in the media, causing for a lack of understanding and therefore a lack of action being taken. One trend that seems to be booming in the media, though, is Veganism, a diet that is highly beneficial to the environment, as it excludes any and all animal products. With more people choosing plant-based diets, there is increased exposure to, and popularity of vegan options, and with the power of the internet, anyone can find out ways to make the eco-friendly switch.
For example, on social media platform Instagram, the hashtag ‘#vegan’ currently has almost 79 million posts, and the hashtag ‘#veganfood’ has over 15 million, containing an enormous variety of recipes and vegan food inspiration. With more people choosing vegan options as a result of increased consciousness of health and wellbeing, animal welfare, and environmental concerns, it is evident that it has become a new lifestyle trend; one that may just help to save the planet.
Another way in which humans can become more ecologically sustainable, as well as self-sustainable in the face of climate change, is by growing our produce at home. With the rise and advancement of home gardening technologies, this is becoming a much easier, and time-efficient task. However, as these technologies are still new to the market, they are not so widespread and easily accessible all over the world as yet, though, my hopes for the short-term future is that this will start to change. These are some of the home and indoor gardening technologies that are currently, or soon to be, on the market:
- AeroGarden: Aerogarden are an American company that make several models of countertop indoor gardens that use hydroponic technology (growing plants in water rather than soil). They range from:
- Grows up to 6 plants at once
- Grows plants up to 12 inches in height
- Retails for US$160.00
- 20W LED lights cost “just pennies a day” to run
To the Farm XL
- Grows up to 24 plants at once
- Grows plants up to 36 inches in height
- Touch screen control panel, Wi-Fi & Amazon Echo connectivity
- 60W LED light
- Use with Aerogarden app
- Sends automatic reminders when more water and plant food is required
- Retails for US$799.95
Aerogarden does not ship outside the US and Canada.
2. Ogarden: Ogarden is a French company that created the Ogarden Smart, an automatic indoor gardening system that uses soil and water.
- Grows up to 90 vegetables and herbs at the same time
- 120W LED lighting and automatic irrigation
- Sends warning when more water is needed
- Retails for US$812.90 (without soil)
- Size 135cm x 75cm
- Ships to most of Europe, UK, US and Canada
3. Water Garden: Water Garden is an indoor gardening system that uses aquaponic technology, combining a 3-gallon fish tank with a vegetable and herb growing bed. an Aquaponic system uses the waste of fish to grow plants and clean the water. Essentially, fish waste produces Ammonia, which is converted into nitrate by the water garden, creating a cycle that is beneficial for both the fish and the garden.
- Fishtank is self cleaning
- 240V water pump
- Most ideal for growing wheatgrass, snow peas, parsley, coriander, basil, mint, rocket and mixed greens
- Retails for AU$175.00
- Ships to Australia and New Zealand
These technologies are changing the future of indoor gardening and are incredibly useful tools, especially to busy households, when making the switch to plant-based diets and more ecological and self-sustainable methods of acquiring fresh produce. Although, until they become more widespread and affordable, it is unrealistic for lower-income groups, such as students (like myself) to be able to afford these kinds of technologies. A small, basic indoor or outdoor home garden of herbs, fruits and vegetables is achievable for a low income earner, however it is not always practical for everyone. Out of interest of this, I started Facebook and Twitter polls to get an idea of whether starting a garden at home is practical for my friends and followers. The results were:
The results of each poll were quite promising, with the large majority voting that yes, growing food in the home is practical for them, however, still quite a number answered no, or that they would not know how to. I found these results extremely interesting, as growing basic food in the home is definitely achievable for anyone if you are familiar with the process and costs involved. Doing some quick researching on Bunnings Warehouse online, you can purchase just about any vegetable, fruit or herb seed packet for under $5, a 25L bag of garden soil as cheap as $4, a 25cm basic plastic pot for $2.90, and vegetable fertiliser (optional) for $4. This extremely low-budget cost of getting started is affordable for most people, and depending on time available/level of care for different plants, is practical to maintain. This is something we, as humans, can begin to explore in the short-term future, as we become more conscious of the state of our environment and the way in which the agricultural industries are worsening the issue of global warming.
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences 2019, Meat consumption 1998-2018, viewed 2 May, <http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-commodities/mar-2019/meat-consumption>
Eshel, G, Shepon, A, Makov, T and Milo, R 2014, ‘Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Vol. 111 no. 33, pp. 11996–12001
Macdiarmid, J. I., Douglas, F. and Campbell, J. 2016, ‘Eating like there’s no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet’, Appetite, vol. 96, pp. 487–493