While today is Earth Day and we want to pay special attention to our planet, sustainability and connection to nature is threaded throughout the lives of everyone at Rise Gardens and the community as a whole. From our Director of Research and Development Angelo encouraging everyone to include bee-friendly plants in their outdoor gardens or to our engineering and design team spending hours to determine the most sustainable way to package our products, and our community of customers who are using extra parts of their Rise Garden plants for art projects, DIY projects and more, we know our actions impact the Earth and we all strive to do a little more.
Earth Day is a great opportunity to reflect on our impact on the environment. Eating more plants, vegetables, and fruits not only make us more healthy but the whole earth is slightly better off when we eat only plant-based foods one day a week.
In fact, eating vegetarian meals one day a week could dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. If everyone in the U.S. ate only vegetarian meals for just one day, the U.S. would save 100 billion gallons of water and there would be a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if every American substituted vegetarian food for chicken one meal a week, the carbon dioxide savings would be equivalent to taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.
We’re proud that we’ve made eating healthier, plant-based recipes easier by allowing more people to grow their own food and have those healthy vegetables on hand all year long.
Our sustainability efforts and impact don’t stop there. While we are still a young company, we are already making a big impact. Sustainability, carbon footprints, and environmental impact are very important to us. Our team is currently working on a full report, which we will debut in the coming month, that outlines our full environmental impact and sustainability practices as well as long-term sustainability goals for the coming years.
In honor of Earth Day 2021, we wanted to share a few highlights from the upcoming report.
Plants Harvested and Pounds of Food Grown
In our first full year of operation, our community has already harvested over 28,000 plants and 8,642 lbs of produce. That’s thousands of salads, herbs, greens, veggies, and more on the dinner table, in morning omelettes, and healthy lunches.
Food Miles Saved
When looking at the food miles you are able to save by using a Rise Garden, we compiled food mile data based on conventional agriculture data and grocery store distances. This data represents a user who shops at conventional grocery stores and grows specific crops in their Rise Garden back to back. There is a growth comparison percentage added to each crop so that the food miles applied to standard produce can be compared to Rise Garden crops. When compared to Rise Gardens produce, purchasing the same produce will yield around 300,000 food miles from the farm, to the grocery store, to your home.
Here’s a little more information on our food miles: Our product is assembled in Mexico with parts coming from the US, and then it is shipped back across the border to our shipping facility in Texas. The total miles traveled by our product before it goes out for shipment is around 45,000 miles. With a subscription, you will be receiving items once every 2 months with seeds and nutrients shipping from our consumables shipping facility in New York. This yields a consumables mileage of 2,800 miles from New York to our average user in California. This means that an average user’s annual consumables mileage is around 16,800 miles.
When comparing the net miles, a user with a two-level Rise Garden will become net negative food miles on day 56 of growth where they have made up for the miles that their Garden, seeds, and nutrients traveled by not buying their food from the grocery store. This also continues to be net negative as they order more seeds and nutrients.
The impact is already sizable. In the last year, we’ve diverted 117M food miles!
Reducing Food Waste
According to the USDA, around 31% of food produced is wasted at the retail and consumer level. The main reasons food is wasted is poor storage, shelf life of produce, and over purchasing of food.
By limiting the time between harvest and consumption, you will cut down on waste and increase the shelf life for the consumer. By growing your own food, you are also much more likely to consume it and more likely to plan your meals around your harvest, leading to less food thrown out. When you connect with your food you are more likely to value it and therefore create less waste, so use your Rise Garden to limit your food waste!
While most of the Rise Gardens plants don’t go to waste, we have to account for about 10% of the food grown in the garden being unused or tossed away. That is a dramatic reduction from the industry standard of 31%, resulting in 1,815 lbs of food being diverted from the trash. Way to go, Rise Gardeners!
In industrial agriculture, water usage can be a major factor as many farmers will simply top-water their plants which is highly efficient for the farmer, but leads to large amounts of evaporation. This can lead to issues in places like California where fresh water sources are being depleted by rapid agricultural usage and is a major issue due to the lack of replenishment.
According to a study conducted in 2015, comparing resource usage by lettuce grown in Arizona, conventional soil farming used around 250mL water per g of lettuce produced (Barbosa 2015). When growing in a Rise Garden, it takes only 25mL of water to grow one gram. This means that when you grow your food you are using 1/10th the water it would take to grow in soil. While lettuce has a specific water uptake rate, you can be assured that this trend follows to all crops as conventional soil growing will always use more water than hydroponics. This is due to the fact that you must use a lot of extra water to keep the soil around your plant wet and most of this water simply evaporates. In hydroponics, the water is constantly recirculating in a confined container, and will not evaporate as quickly due to the fact that there is much less exposed surface area.
Our community of growers saved over 234,000 gallons of water in the last year. That’s the equivalent of more than 17 backyard swimming pools!
We can’t wait to show you the rest of our report in the coming month. We are in the process of putting together the final touches. In the meantime, Happy Earth Day and happy gardening.