National Houseplant Appreciation Day

So, it’s a stretch.  National Houseplant Day may not be a biggee in the history of conservation.  But just think for a moment what good things houseplants do for us.

African violet (photo by Bff)

Houseplants actually improve your indoor environment, an example of how nature and humans work together.  They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making it easier to breathe (but keep them out of the bedroom, because at night they do the opposite—suck up your oxygen and double down on carbon dioxide).  They are nature’s humidifiers, delivering moisture to the air—especially needed during these cold, dry days of confinement during the winter.  A NASA study has revealed that plants can strip up to 87% of noxious compounds out of the air in a day.

And we can eat them.  We have a large rosemary plant in our house; just break off a sprig and add it to whatever is cooking.  Add a little dill, sage and thyme—and you’ve got a spice cabinet growing in your kitchen (not to mention the stimulus for a Simon and Garfunkel earworm).

But let’s be serious for a moment.  According to the late Yale professor (and my long-time friend) Stephen Kellert, natural elements in the human environment are not only good for us, but essential for us.  We are inherently natural creatures, and our migration into the built environment of cities is too recent to have rinsed away our affiliation with nature.  Biophilia, he called it.  And when we don’t get enough exposure to nature, we suffer from NDD—Nature Deficit Disorder.

And there is lots of proof, summarized by Kellert and colleague Elizabeth F. Calabrese.  Hospital patients get better faster in hospital rooms with windows—or even murals of natural scenes.  Offices of cubicles in windowless rooms reduce productivity; add natural light, views to the outside, windows that open, and productivity soars.  Indoor plants, by themselves, can improve productivity by as much as 15%.   Kellert and Calabrese suggest adding these features to the human environment:  Images of nature, natural materials, natural colors, simulated natural light and air, naturalistic shapes and forms—and several others.  It’s just a more modern form of feng shui and vastu, the Chinese and Indian ideas of designing with nature.

The green wall at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative building

A few years ago, I visited the home of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative in Cambridge, England.  It is a collaborative of the famous university and several conservation groups, including IUCN.  The building itself is interesting, with a four-story green wall in its atrium, an astonishing bit of biophilic design.  What was more astonishing, at the opening of the building, named for renowned British conservationist, David Attenborough, the namesake himself entered the building by rappelling from the top to the bottom (learn more about Attenborough here).

So, on January 10, let’s give it up for the little green botanical pets that grace our homes and workplaces.  And don’t forget to water them!

References:

Calamia, Maureen K.  2011.  Why Plants Make Us Feel Good.  The Huffington Post, Oct 04, 2011.  Available at:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/maureen-k-calamia/biophilia_b_917161.html.  Accessed January 15, 2018.

Kellert, Stephen.  2015.  Nature by Design:  the Practice of biophilic Design.  Human Spaces, June 2015.  Available at:  http://humanspaces.com/2015/06/01/nature-by-design-the-practice-of-biophilic-design/.  Accessed January 15, 2018.

National Today.  National Houseplant Appreciation Day – January 10.  Available at:  https://nationaltoday.com/national-houseplant-appreciation-day/.  Accessed January 15, 2018.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
January February March April May June July August September October November December