Living Walls by their very nature are a means of ‘afforestation’, a way of greening the city in areas that were once bio-diverse.
Recently, there seems to be a national, if not international trend to rather use fake (read: plastic) versions of Living Walls to save on maintenance and upkeep. What consumers and business owners don’t realise is the benefits of ‘real’ Living Walls FAR outweigh those of their plastic impersonators. To name just a few…
- Living Walls provide an insulation function to buildings – they act as a blanket which can reduce heating and cooling costs.
- Biophilia – the study of the effect plants have on human beings. Plants can improve overall mood, productivity and increase the amounts of joy and/or peace felt in the work and home environments.
- Living Walls are a space saving green solution for home and business environments. Granted, fake versions can do the same but who wants to bring MORE plastic into their home or office, really?
- The heat island impact – built up areas are prone to heating the air within their environments to higher temperatures than surrounding suburban neighbourhoods. Real Living Walls and Green Roofs counteract this by cooling the air down.
- Exterior Living Walls and Green Roofs encourage bird, bee and other biodiversity back into cities. They are self-contained ecosystems.
Now, you may argue that the one thing fake Living Walls have going for them is that they are recyclable. That may be so, but to what extent is unclear. Some suppliers tell us that 50% of their product is recycled plastics and the other 50% is new polymers.
Living Walls were never meant to be low maintenance. A Living Wall is an investment of time as well as money. It’s like caring for your family dog for example – they need water, food and oxygen to breath, not to mention regular grooming.
When you purchase a beautiful Orchid at your local Woolworths it naturally (see what I did there?) brings joy and life to your home or office, but because plants are a living organism and have their own lifecycle they require care and input. When these living organisms get the attention they need there is nothing that can beat the beauty and splendour of their expression, whether in full bloom or not.
Fake green walls have a shelf life of 3 – 5 years and even less when they are exposed to the sun. That means that after around 36 months you would have to strip down the brittle, bleached synthetic wall façade and hope that it gets disposed of responsibly. Only 14% of South Africans actually recycle, so what are the odds of this happening?
it’s time to choose consciously and buy products that have a sustainable guarantee.
As responsible citizens of this planet, we can’t afford to operate with the mindset of ‘business as usual’. Future generations will struggle (and that’s putting it mildly) if we don’t change our business practises now.