Despite relying on the planet to thrive and grow, the cannabis industry has not been particularly friendly to the planet as it’s become industrialized. Unsustainable growing practices, single-use plastic packaging, and emissions from shipping products are among many ways the cannabis industry still contributes to pollution and climate change.
Thankfully, some brands and organizations are working to fuel the cannabis sustainability movement – an effort by environmentalists, cannabis growers, and a broader community to sincerely make the cannabis industry green.
The Sustainability Movement
Two factors have fueled today’s cannabis sustainability movement. Cannabis growers who want to support the planet that supports their business, and consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint drive the sustainability movement.
Cannabis buyers worldwide have been clamoring for better environmental practices from their favorite brands and growers for years. As climate change has gained awareness and visibility in the media, cannabis buyers now have an interest in environmental action and sustainable initiatives. Some brands have taken steps to reduce packaging waste – a primary consumer concern. However, most of these efforts have caused prices to increase, leaving consumers dissatisfied.
Cannabis growers who once used similar practices as factory farmers have begun turning in more significant numbers to regenerative farming. At length, they support the health of the planet and reduce the cost of growing by eliminating the need for harsh pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Now, an increasing number of cannabis companies are working together to develop better production methods, support sustainable initiatives, and teach future growers how to grow mindfully.
Ways to Cannabis Sustainability
While minor changes make a difference, it will take more than a handful of growers to make a real impact in turning the industry green. As consumers become more aware of how their weed is grown and processed, increased demand for sustainable products is likely to encourage those growers that are still hesitant. Some key ways cannabis producers are combating climate change include:
Regenerative farming is a type of agricultural practice that yields healthy crops for the present while also preparing and protecting the planet for future generations. Plants are naturally regenerative, growing from the soil each season, then dying back and returning the nutrients they used to grow the soil. Microfauna, mold, and fungi help break down plant waste, creating healthy, nutrient-rich soil to grow crops next season.
Rather than working with the natural ability of the planet to regenerate life, modern farming techniques rely on harsh chemical pesticides and fertilizers to artificially restore nutrient balance and ward off disease. Unfortunately, these chemical products only serve to strip the planet of its natural power further to support life and eventually render the soil unusable for generations. Many consumers are turning to outdoor or sungrown weed because of the negative potential impacts from indoor weed on the environment.
Cannabis growers that are interested in regenerative farming can learn more, discover supportive communities of sustainable growers, and get certified by Sun+Earth. Cannabis companies that have earned the Sun+Earth certification grow their cannabis under the sun without using harsh chemicals and work hard to offer their workers fair wages.
Recycled Packaging & Shipping Materials
Legal cannabis products must be packaged according to particular guidelines for safety and cleanliness. Because of this, many cannabis products are required to be packaged in multiple layers of plastic, paper, and glass, creating more waste for the landfills.
Despite needing to comply with strict packaging guidelines, it’s still possible for cannabis companies to become plastic negative. To improve sustainability practices, companies should use recycled, recyclable, and biodegradable materials – like cardboard made from mushrooms – instead!
Some companies are using metal packaging instead of plastic or heavy glass, with the intent that the stainless steel packaging is 100% recyclable. On top of that, products packaged in glass or plastic jars don’t stay fresh as long, and oftentimes expired product is wasted and discarded if it’s not sold in time.
A little known factor in determining a company’s sustainability is their supply chain management. Factors like the weight of shipments, fuel prices, and cost of materials add up quickly. Packaging company N2 for example reports, “A pound of product put in our cans weighs about 9 pounds total. A pound of product put in competitors glass jars weighs about 32 pounds total. So for shipping purposes this saves a lot of weight, space, and fuel”
Cannabis brands that do not grow their cannabis can become more sustainable by sourcing their ingredients from growers using regenerative farming practices. With more customers (like your brand), growers making a difference can expand their business, educate other growers, and continue to create innovative moves for the environment.
In times of uncertainty, it is essential to redouble efforts to support community resilience. When the community thrives, everyone thrives, and this principle holds even for the cannabis industry. One of the best ways to support the sustainable cannabis movement is to shop from local businesses as a consumer. Further, buying products from companies in your community will ensure that your investment goes right back into making your home a better, greener, cleaner place.
Cannabis Companies Focused on Sustainability
With so many cannabis brands to choose from, it’s most desirable to shop from cannabis companies that are more than merely its cannabis flower and a brand label. Why pay a premium price on cannabis just for the branding of the product? There’s so much more that goes into operating a successful business, which includes following a roadmap to uphold a company’s mission and ethos.
As consumers, an easy way to invest in the sustainability movement is to buy your weed and cannabis products from holistic, sustainability-focused brands. Some exciting cannabis brands whose products are produced sustainably include:
- Flow Kana’s flower is grown by California based multi-generational farmers who rely on the power of the sun and Mother Earth to produce high-quality cannabis.
- Mana Botanics is a Hawaii based company creating premium CBD products from sun-grown whole-hemp extract.
- N2 Packaging is an Idaho based cannabis packaging supply company that uses metal packaging for recyclable and sustainable options, and nitrogen-sealed cans to preserve freshness of the products.
- Source Cannabis uses a unique indoor growing method that uses minimal amounts of energy and relies on carefully calculated conditions to create the perfect environment for weed to grow.
- Ocean Cannabis Co. uses recycled and reclaimed ocean plastic to package its products, and each purchase helps recover about 1-water bottle worth of plastic from.
At times, climate change can feel like an insurmountable barrier, a looming figure of doom reminding us all that our resources and comfort are limited. While it is important to take the threat of climate change seriously, it would be wrong to assume that it is too late to change for the better. The cannabis industry is an excellent example of how communities can come together to push for change by supporting, educating, and uplifting one another one small step at a time.