Guest post by Dr. Nathan Walworth, Chief Scientific Officer at Asha Apothecary
The fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day arrived during uncertain times this year as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) rapidly proliferates across our planet. In a matter of weeks, governments around the world have taken drastic actions to limit its spread with citywide lockdowns and restricted travel.
Whereas many national governments have proven unable to fully coordinate their pandemic response, global citizens have demonstrated incredible resilience and adaptation in their bids to come together for the greater good. If anything, COVID-19 has provided a glimpse of the incredible things we could achieve in a short time if we all applied the same urgency and effort to healing our environment. True, the climate crisis has proven a bit more difficult to imagine and experience in comparison to this terrible new virus— but left unchecked, the consequences will prove even more dire in the coming decades. We believe that we must not ignore a frightening future just because it has not yet arrived. So perhaps these trying months can offer a rare moment to address some more systemic issues revealed by COVID-19. How can we design for potential instead of just solving problems when they hit us? How do we start to turn these new perspectives into a reality?
Solutions may be nearer than you think.
Now is the time for regenerative approaches. The key is to replace systems of efficiency with systems of resilience. In fact, natural ecosystems have evolved these tried and true methods over billions of years. It all stems from diversity and teamwork: the more diverse the ecosystem, the more species evolve together to build collective resilience to its disruption. So how can we diversify our own relationships to build a more resilient global community?
“Relationships” aren’t just about how we understand each other as people. In the coming decades, they must include how we cooperate with everything in our environment.
Strong networks depend on strong foundations. No matter where on Earth you live, that foundation is made of soil. Healthy soil fuels plant photosynthesis, which provides us surface dwellers with food and oxygen while simultaneously drawing out carbon dioxide to stabilize our climate. The United Nations has deemed healthy soil building one of the superior methods to reverse global warming—not only on account of these key natural functions, but also because it represents an accessible and equitable method for improving communities worldwide. By equipping people with the skills to grow food locally from healthy soil, the methods of regenerative agriculture can significantly increase community resilience to looming uncertainty. For these reasons, Kiss the Ground’s programs and education are dedicated to cultivating resilience practices and making them accessible to all.
The Dynamic Duo: Hemp + Soil
Of course, massive regeneration efforts require maximum collaboration. That’s why Kiss the Ground has teamed up with Asha Apothecary to co-conceive a regenerative future for both healthy soil and the burgeoning hemp industry. Like soil, hemp holds immense potential for many different industries. Humans have been cultivating it for thousands of years; today, researchers are starting to expand its application as a green alternative in medicine, textiles, fuels, building materials, and phytoremediation.
It is no secret that we have polluted much of our soil through industrial agriculture, chemical pesticides, and more. Phytoremediation can be defined as “the use of plants for the removal and containment of contaminants in soil, surface waters, and groundwaters.” Thanks to its high biomass, deep roots, short life cycle, and a remarkable ability to absorb heavy metals, hemp has been identified as a superior phytoremediator. Its use in this arena actually gained an international spotlight as early as in 1986, when it was used to help clean up soil after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.
In short: healthy soil grows healthy hemp, while growing hemp can help regenerate healthy soil. It’s a beautiful display of symbiotic teamwork. That’s why Asha Apothecary and Kiss the Ground see a pivotal opportunity to help come together and steward the early stages of the hemp industry in a positive direction for our planet and all of its people.
How can I help fuel the movement?
You can practice responsible symbiosis as a consumer. More and more, businesses, nonprofits, individuals and community groups can work together to grow a regenerative world.
Choose products and providers that can help lead the way. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp CBD has become one of the fastest-growing herbal wellness solutions for things like sleep support and the management of stress and pain. This increasing demand offers an opportunity to instrumentalize hemp’s many other uses, including phytoremediation. Yet, while the CBD products’ global popularity has certainly exploded in recent years, the direction of the industry remains unclear. Many companies face little to no accountability for the social and environmental impacts of their questionable practices. This is why it is essential to support companies who have integrated social and environmental initiatives into their DNA.
Asha Apothecary of Los Angeles has demonstrated this commitment from the earliest moments of its inception. Asha offers an array of locally-made, organic, broad-spectrum hemp CBD formulations with zero THC (the psychoactive compound that causes you to “get high”). Their tinctures and softgels are designed to maximize bioavailability. They also produce topical herbally-infused CBD salves to soothe muscles and joints. Asha’s strategies of participation are manifold, from ethical packaging to straightforward financial engagement to wider community-building practices. Thus, not only do a percentage of their proceeds go directly to supporting the Kiss the Ground Farmland Program, but their team continuously engages with direct educational and impact initiatives. The wife-and-husband duo who helped co-found Asha integrate Kiss the Ground curriculum into their coursework as teachers of regenerative studies at Cal Poly Pomona. These days, Asha has begun to explore the potenial for further research on CBD at the University of Southern California.
As we have learned from this spreading pandemic and the experiences of global quarantine, our small, day-to-day individual choices matter so much to the preservation of a healthy community. This same logic applies in the case of our climate crisis, a threat that will persist long after COVID subsides. You don’t necessarily have to change careers, donate huge sums of money, or volunteer your time to help build a more resilient, future-oriented world. But the next time you’re ready to flex your daily power, perhaps consider channeling your support towards brands and businesses that are founded with true commitment to supporting the environment. Because that’s teamwork too.