Unfortunately, smoking that green isn’t very green at all. Since legalization has spread across the states and Canada, long gone are the days of small organic backyard grows with just four or five plants to sustain you for the year. With marijuana so accessible in legal states, it’s easier to buy pot from a dispensary. However, commercial cannabis farms are oftentimes energy and water guzzling indoor operations that take a larger toll on the environment than you would think. These are a few easy ways to be a more environmentally friendly cannabis consumer.
Reuse, upcycle, or recycle cannabis packaging
From plastic pre-roll doob tubes and medicine bottles to fancier glass jars, cannabis products come with a lot of packaging, much of which is made out of plastic. This is in part due to local regulations that require products to have child-proof packaging and considerable labeling. Just like normal jars and bottles, not all can be recycled. Check for the recycling symbol and quickly clean and dry the container before tossing it into the recycling bin. Containers stamped with the number 1 have the highest recycle value. If you find that the packaging can’t be recycled, repurpose it! Reuse doob tubes for stealthy shots on the go, or to transport your joints. Plastic medicine bottles make great seed starters or stash jars for other items. For a more sustainable option, choose pot brands that use eco-friendly jars and tubes like the recycled Sana Packaging.
Support eco-friendly growers
The environmental impact of cannabis cultivation is enormous. Indoor grow operations are the absolute worst method since it uses an enormous amount of energy and water to sustain. In Denver for example, nearly 4% of the entire city’s energy use was attributed to growing marijuana. In 2019 alone, American marijuana businesses used as much electricity as it would take to power 92,500 homes for an entire year! That’s not even taking into account the extremely high amount of water consumption. In climates unsuitable for year-round cultivation, greenhouses are the best option to cut down on the environmental impact, while outdoor grows are best for warm, sunny climates. Purchasing pot from local farms in your area is another way to cut down on the environmental impact and carbon emissions since the products didn’t travel far distances. Even though it’s a little cheaper, refrain from buying black market pot which is often grown indoors with pesticides and travels very far to get to the end consumer.
Properly dispose of vape batteries and finished joints
Any kind of battery is toxic if not disposed of in the right way. Most vaporizers use regular rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries. Lithium is a nonrenewable metal that needs to be mined and treated with heat and chemicals. Do not throw your vape battery in the trash! Lithium leaks harmful chemicals into the environment, but the good news is that they can be recycled. Check with your local dispensary or find a drop off recycling location by searching the listings on Earth911 or Call2Recycle. It should go without saying, do not ever flick a joint or cigarette butt onto the ground. In addition to being an eyesore and possibly eaten by wildlife, the smallest ember can start a wildfire or light up a building. Always pocket your roaches, especially when smoking weed outdoors.
Though legal cannabis sold in dispensaries is tested for heavy metals and pesticides, that doesn’t mean that it’s grown organically. In addition to health concerns, using these types of chemicals for any type of agriculture is detrimental to the natural environment. The effects of pesticides on the environment is widespread and includes contamination of everything from the soil, local water supply, and surrounding vegetation, to the death of beneficial insects, fish, birds, and other wildlife. Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, cannabis products are unable to be certified organic under the USDA, but two third-party companies–Certified Kind and Clean Green–provide their own stringent testing and certification process similar to the USDA. Check out their lists of organic weed brands and if you’re a home grower, always choose organic!
Switch to eco-friendly smoking products
Though a silicone bong is great for clumsy smokers, it’s much more sustainable to invest in quality eco-friendly cannabis accessories. Reducing single use plastic in the form of lighters (we know you have about 20 lying around) is a great first step. Opt for metal refillable lighters and switch to hemp wick for a cleaner burn with less carbon emissions. When it comes to bongs and smoking pipes, Marley Naturals is a good eco-friendly choice. The brand, started by the Marley family (yes that Marley), uses sustainably sourced black walnut wood for an elegant, timeless look. The collection includes a water bong, hybrid bubbler, herb grinder, and weed stash case. Other quick switches include using reusable glass filter tips instead of paper ones and choosing a non-toxic and environmentally friendly bong cleaning solution.
For more eco-friendly smoking products, visit the Everything For 420 online headshop where you can buy bongs, vapes and dab rigs.