Photo by Celeste Horrocks

How to Be An Eco-Friendly Cannabis Consumer

Cannabis is a naturally-occurring plant, but like any natural products that can be sold and distributed, growing and enjoying it comes at a cost. Reduce your cannabis footprint and go truly green with these tips.

Stash your buds in glass jars

If you purchase cannabis flower from a licensed producer, it probably comes in a foil pouch or plastic container. Canadian law requires you to transport your medical cannabis in these labelled containers whenever you leave home with it, but there are no laws governing how you keep it at home.

A tightly-sealed glass container is the best receptacle for keeping your flower fresh. Glass is also easy to recycle and best of all, easy to find – you probably already have a few jars sitting in your blue bin that can be put to use.

Note that transparent glass jars are more susceptible to UV rays, which can damage cannabis and decrease its potency. So, if you are going to switch to glass, consider stashing your jar in a dark area of your home, out of direct sunlight.

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Switch to a vaporizer

Much has been written about the health advantages of vaporizing cannabis, but vaping also has ecological benefits, especially when compared with smoking. For starters, the liquid droplet particles in second-hand vapours evaporate within seconds, so you don’t have to worry about releasing toxins into the atmosphere when exhaling, as you would with smoking.

Moreover, the plastic disposable lighters commonly used to light joints have become a scourge on the environment – they release greenhouse gases into the ozone layer and can’t be recycled. Each year, more than a half-billion disposable lighters end up in our landfills, leaking lighter fluid into the soil.

Vaporizers may contain plastic parts, but they also last for thousands of sessions and provide their own heat, no lighter required. Yes, they do require charging or even the occasional battery replacement, but these are likely minor trade-offs compared with the alternative.

Try a hemp wick

If you like smoking and aren’t ready to make the change to vaping, you can still reduce your environmental footprint by switching from disposable lighters to hemp wicks. These wicks are made from natural hemp fibres, remain lit for as long as needed, and are prized by cannabis connoisseurs for eliminating the butane flavour of lighter fluid. You will still need to use a lighter (or a match) to ignite the hemp wick, but it’s one quick flame versus a prolonged one, and you won’t burn through as many lighters.

Use unbleached, hemp rolling papers

If you don’t already use eco-friendly hemp or rice-based rolling papers, consider making the switch. Classic rolling papers, like those made by Zig-Zag, are made from bleached wood pulp. Not only do these types of thicker rolling papers burn quickly, taste harsh, and release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere when ignited, but their production relies on deforestation and pulp mills, notorious culprits of air and water pollution.

Unbleached hemp and rice papers come from naturally grown materials with fewer processing chemicals. They make for tastier and longer-burning papers that do not release anything but the smell of cannabis into the air.

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Clean your accessories with eco-friendly products

Rubbing alcohol is commonly recommended for cleaning vapes, as well as pipes (which can also be cleaned with an alcohol and Epsom salt mix). The problem arises when you pour these solutions down the drain.

Rubbing alcohol contains anywhere from 70 to 99 per cent isopropyl, which can be hazardous and potentially fatal to humans if ingested. Some Canadian jurisdictions allow for small amounts of rubbing alcohol to be poured down the drain, while others do not. So why do it if you don’t have to?

Research safe disposal methods in your area, support eco-friendly vape cleaners (there is a limited number on the market now, but look for alkaline-based, alcohol-free solutions, and double check with your vape manufacturer that they’ll work on yours). And, if you prefer a bong or pipe, consider skipping the tedious cleaning routine altogether and opting for a dishwasher-safe version.

Buy from eco-friendly licensed producers

There are more than 100 licensed producers (LPs) of medical cannabis across Canada, and many have constructed – or are in the process of constructing – massive greenhouses to cut down on the amount of electricity needed for cultivation. With these state-of-the-art greenhouses, LPs can recycle water for repeated use, harness the natural light of the sun and grow cannabis year round!

Show your support for greener growing operations by calling your LP, asking them about their environmental practices, and letting them know that you value green operations, from growing to packaging to delivery.

If you can, consider choosing a local LP, to reduce shipping distances.

Got any hot tips for greening your cannabis routine? Let us know in the comments below.