A famous man once said, “it’s not that easy being green.” Alright, maybe a little less of a man and more of a Muppet. Regardless, when you’re in an industry that prides itself in selling greens it only makes sense that they put a little bit of thought and foresight into running their business “green” as well. While running an eco-friendly marijuana dispensary may seem like a pretty cut and dry concept, in practice this is a little bit more difficult than you might think. For starters, dispensaries are frequently ineligible for the slew of renewable energy discounts and tax breaks that companies are normally able to take advantage of. Since cannabis is still federally illegal and many renewable energy benefits are provided by the federal government. Everything from new HVAC systems to LED light bulbs must be paid for by the dispensary with little to no compensation. So how are dispensaries even managing to run clean and green nowadays? The answer can be found at spots like Life Flower Dispensary, a recreational and medicinal marijuana dispensary located in Glendale, Colorado where being green may not be easy but it’s still a priority.
I met up with Neal from Life Flower who gave me the scoop on what Life Flower does to keep up with the times and keep their environmental impact as low as possible. He started by telling me about a less tangible (but very real way) way that Life Flower helps reduce their carbon footprint. Every quarter, Life Flower pitches in its share to the Boulder Marijuana Energy Impact Offset Fund. To get an idea of scope, according to Boulder County, “a typical 5,000 square foot indoor grow facility contributes approximately 43,731 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per month to the atmosphere.” The Energy Impact Offset Fund is a way for dispensaries to help offset the use of coal and draw more of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar. Being part of the offset is a step that ensures that dispensaries like Life Flower are doing their part even if you as a customer might not see the impact when you’re heading in to snag some cannabis products.
Another thing that Life Flower does to stay green involves their light bulbs. Another closeted environmental issue that all dispensaries face is the use of light bulbs inside stores and grow facilities. A whole lot of material goes into making a grow operation or dispensary stay bright and shiny. As the bulbs burn out large amounts of glass, tungsten, iron and other valuable elements can go to waste. Life Flower knows this, and as Neal explained that’s why they recycle their bulbs by the foot and by weight to make sure not a shred of useful material gets wasted.
If you want to be a truly green dispensary you must think beyond the standard eco-friendly habits and really think on a bottom line what practices your company has that may still be destructive to the environment. Something as mundane as where you purchase soil for your grow can have a huge impact on how environmentally friendly your process is. When you import soil and nutrients (a common practice in the marijuana industry) you must consider the addition fuel use of shipping the soil. When you really think even more about it you even need to think about the extra energy that is consumed to keep the lights on at the weigh station that’s checking that imported soil and the additional asphalt that will need to be poured to repair the road from extra traffic. Life Flower proudly uses all locally sourced soil, nutrients, microbes, and fertilizers. This is not only a great step environmentally, but who doesn’t like the idea of supporting Colorado’s economy? This win-win scenario and beyond cutting down prices for everyone it’s a huge step in the right direction environmentally.
Last, but certainly not least, Life Flower is stepping up their green effort inside the dispensary. If you have found yourself inundated with a slew of those little plastic cannabis containers, remember to bring your empties into Life Flower for a trip to be recycled. While a few extra marijuana containers won’t make a huge impact when you think about the thousands of transactions and therefore thousands of plastic tamper-proof containers that are handed out every day it really adds up. You might notice the fancy new counters at Life Flower as well when you come in to return your plastic containers. There is an eco-friendly secret behind these counters. The new recreational side of Life Flower is crafted using hundreds of pieces of repurposed pine beetle-kill wood. Arguably, pine beetles have only attained a foothold in this region thanks to climate changes in the Rockies allowing their species to migrate into different regions. When these beetle-kill trees fall they also create a disastrous side-effect by producing thousands of piles of dry kindling, just waiting to cause horrid summer-time forest fires. Removal and use of this beetle-kill is not only eco-friendly in the short-term but it’s averting potentially disastrous forest fires which not only put lives and homes at risk but also produce mass amounts of greenhouse gasses.
As a final note Neal mentioned that Life Flower is in the process of forming a partnership with The Green Team, a local Colorado group focused on making the cannabis industry as green as their products. After running through the gamut of different practices of Life Flower, it’s easy to see their dedication to environmental stewardship is second to none. If you’ve got a green streak why not shop at a spot that is just as green as you are. While I wouldn’t say it’s easy being green, it makes things a little easier when you know that you can shop at a dispensary that is taking the steps with you. Next time you’re looking for some cannabis, take a moment to think about what impact your consumption is going to have on the world around you, and ask yourself, “is my marijuana really green?