• Jacob Alcott

Mental Health: From Doom-Scrolling to reducing Carbon Footprints



2022 and its subsequent years have given us no shortage of doom-scroll fodder.


From an "impending" world war, or the ongoing pandemic, to the doom-ridden narrative on climate change; our reality has been saturated with an endless parade of anxiety and dejection. Our initial response, along with a 24/7 news media dependency, is a feeling of utter powerlessness.


How can we be expected to fight for a better future, when we are surrounded by nothing but stories of hopelessness?


While I won’t try and sell you a dream that these major issues can be solved by personal action, there is still an importance on committing to making change, no matter how small the commitments may be. Even though these small practices may feel miniscule when compared to the entirety of the world's problems, committing to change can have huge a impact on us as individuals, and to our communities.


Food Security and Urban Gardening


In a previous article("Re-thinking Food Culture"), I laid out some of the different ways that we, the individuals, can get involved by growing gardens in cities/small spaces and how growing a food garden can give any individual a sense of accomplishment and empowerment in their given situation.


By removing the reliance we have on our town or city to provide adequate stores and markets for healthy foods, we the people gain power and independence. Not to mention it frees us from the shady endeavors of large corporations in their "standards” of what they deem safe to eat. Another benefit to growing your own food garden is that one can bring peace of mind and hope into the lives of those who partake: reducing your carbon footprint.


Earth's Carbon Stores

When it comes to Earth’s carbon stores, by this I mean bodies in general that store carbon, nothing comes close to rivaling the amounts stored in the soil (Dynarski, 2020). This makes the agricultural practices that farmers use vitally important in regards to our climate crisis.


Unfortunately, the current practices of tilling and monocropping -the practice of only growing one crop in a given space- continues to expend key nutrients from our soils, including carbon. These nutrients are then supplemented back into the soil using a litany of chemical fertilizers,, while the carbon that’s dug up from the soils ends up in the atmosphere.


Markus Spiske Via Unsplash

Now, most of these carbon emissions do come from large scale agriculture and monocropping, and in turn most of the solution lies in the shifting culture of American farms. Regardless, there are still things we can do with this knowledge. By applying more sustainable methods of practice on a smaller scale, be it through a full yard food forest or a smaller urban container garden, everyone can do their part to help lessen the blow of climate change.


The key to this is maximizing your space and diversifying what you grow - regardless of your situation. Creating small ecosystems that feed into themselves reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and keeps soil intact by eliminating the need to till and disturb soils, which in turn disrupts the mycorrhizal network (the underground network of fungal mycelium that attaches to the roots of plants) that helps distribute nutrients (Finlay, 2008).


Creating a food forest or urban garden is the perfect way to take matters into your own hands. Not only will it reduce the need for stores to ship produce from far away, it actively reduces your carbon footprint as well.


Resources


For best practices, tips, and tricks to maximize your garden’s productivity while also decreasing your carbon footprint, I’ve included a list of some of my favorite eco-influencers:



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