Humans have been moving from rural to urban areas since the Age of Industrialization but meeting a rapid growth since the 19th century. As of today 50 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas over rural areas. Due to more people moving into urban areas city planning and development continuously expand taking up more land as the population increases, however this comes at the sacrifice of diverse ecosystems. Massive construction takes place in order to provide housing, public spaces, transit and entertainment amenities resulting in green spaces being treated more as a commodity or accessory to the city environment.
As cities continue to develop the impacts of urbanization cannot go unnoticed as pollutants intensify due to lost ecosystems and climate change.
Buildings and their constructions produce 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions annually. That being said humans spend 90 percent of their time indoors or in enclosed environments. There is a substantial cut off between humans and the natural world. As of today it’s normal to wake up, commute to our places of work indoors, clock out, spend the remainder of our days back inside our homes, wait for the weekend to binge out on shows or books we didn’t have time for with the occasional outing. While work weeks increase so does the time spent staying inside. As generations come and go we are witnessing the era of the “Indoors Generation,” who spent a great deal deprived from the natural world. As an urbanized culture, always on the go, meeting deadlines and due dates, we forget that we fail to meet with our most basic needs such as sunlight and fresh air. We’re a lot like plants but have alienated from them.
As plants need sunlight and fresh air so do we. The amount of time spent indoors is taking a toll on public health. Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air coming from microbes, indoor activities like cooking or cleaning products, chemicals from wall paint, etc. Indoor pollutants have an array of impacts on our physical health including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and worsened asthma.
A study coming from Denmark’s University of Aarhus found that childhood exposure to green spaces reduces the risk of developing psychiatric disorders during adolescence and adulthood. Early green space intervention can help ease the effects of mental health problems. Green space encourages the reduction of social breakdown as it encourages empathy and emotional connection.
Indoor plants are a great way to offset these impacts as they are nature’s best air purifiers. The snake plant is praised for its detoxing qualities as it absorbs benzene and formaldehyde from the air and gifting pure oxygen in return.
The spider plant absorbs benzene and ammonia which is perfect to offset harsh chemicals from cleaning products, hair and nail products.
To name another one, the aloe vera plant can greatly reduce effects of eye irritation, headaches, and dizziness as it absorbs carbon monoxide as well as other toxins.
Other benefits from the exposure to indoor plants is the direct impact it has on mood, the color green is a dominant color in nature evoking sentiments of growth and a renewal for life. Like the braided money tree green brings a feeling of abundance, peace, rest and security.
Written by: Genesis Sotomayor