If you find the rising temperature of the earth problematic (because it is) and have an eye toward what you can do to combat climate change, you’re far from alone.
There are even progressive cannabis farms going the extra mile in growing cannabis sustainably. And despite the global evaluation of cannabis, this is no easy feat.
Growing cannabis requires a lot of water and it contributes to air, land, and water pollution as well as soil damage. Indoor operations can be a serious drain on energy resources. And the sheer amount of plastic that goes into packaging is horrifying. So how are they doing it?
Stone Road in Nevada – Growing Cannabis Sustainably
Stone Road cannabis farm is one of the best examples of being able to grow cannabis in a sustainable way. This off-grid and biodynamic farm in Nevada City, California was opened in 2016 by 30-year-old CEO Lex Corwin.
Understanding the considerable environmental footprint of cannabis, Corwin is among a small group of farmers who are facing the challenges of incorporating more sustainable (yet still profitable) practices. And through innovative thinking, he’s been successful.
Cannabis plants are thirsty creatures. They consume nearly twice the amount of water each day that other commodity crops do. And California is notoriously lacking when it comes to water. This didn’t stop Corwin though.
The farm’s outdoor plants that grow over a sprawling 57 acres are fed by two wells that draw from an underground aquifer. That means Stone Road doesn’t have to rely on municipal or stream water and it always has ample supply – even during a drought.
Furthermore, through this sort of thoughtful and water-conscious method of irrigation, there is little to no overwatering. The flow of runoff is also stemmed which, given the chemicals used in conventional cannabis operations, can disrupt both aquatic and land habitats nearby.
In the case of Stone Road, there are no chemicals. Corwin finds that predator mites and ladybugs eat and deter pests while beneficial fungi stave off mold. All of these ensure clean water.
Swapping Out for LEDs… and Then Some
Many grow facilities want to speed up their turnaround and get the highest number of harvests possible from their plants. They’ve traditionally used high-pressure sodium lights in inefficient fixtures and climate control measures to do this. It works. But at a huge cost of massive greenhouse gas emissions.
LED lighting has been a godsend for facilities looking to bring down their energy usage. LEDs don’t require as much energy, emit less heat, and actually provide more light. They do still take energy to run though.
For Corwin, the focus is less on energy saving and more on generation. Rather than relying on the grid to power his LEDs, he installed on-site solar panels that provide enough energy to run the greenhouses’ lighting. And because the sides of the greenhouse can be manually opened, this eliminates the need for HVAC or dehumidifying measures.
The Pot and Plastic Legacy
Walk through a dispensary and you’re going to see plastic. A lot of plastic. Tons of it. And much of it is single use plastic that takes hundreds of years to decompose while releasing harmful gasses into the environment.
It’s not cool.
But it’s cheaper than the environmentally friendly options. And for those trying to run a business, making the best financial choice is part of the game. Especially with the industry struggling – as it currently is.
It’s an expense that Corwin is willing to make though. As a surfer, he’s bummed out by the notion of plastic filling the ocean. So Stone Road has opted for packaging made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials. They plan to move to100% plastic-free soon.
But it’s also a gamble he’s willing to take. Because the vast majority of the industry is still choosing plastic. And without financial incentives in place to promote eco-friendly practices, that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
It seems the cannabis industry has a (long) ways to go toward achieving sustainability. Hopefully, the current pioneers such as Corwin can eventually guide them.
Are You a Responsible Cannabis Business Owner?
Even if growing cannabis sustainably is not a possibility for you at this juncture, that doesn’t mean your business shouldn’t thrive.
So contact us today to find out how we can put your cannabis business in the spotlight and propel you forward toward success.