What if climate change turns out to be a hoax, and in our efforts to prevent dangerous global warming we instead end deforestation, create good jobs, and reduce air pollution for no reason? That is the question posed by the audience member in this cartoon. Clearly, this person does not understand the value of co-benefits.
Co-benefits are the additional positive outcomes created when we address some problem. For example, if we decide to eat out less often because restaurants are expensive, the primary benefit is that we save money. The co-benefits might be that we eat healthier food and discover a passion for cooking.
There are plenty of co-benefits when it comes to sustainable gardening. Whatever our reason is for shrinking our lawns and putting more native plants in our yards, we enjoy all kinds of positive outcomes in addition to the one we were aiming for.
If we plant natives because we don’t want to contribute to the climate crisis by running a lawnmower, we also enjoy cleaner air in our neighborhoods.
If we install water-wise landscaping to help conserve limited water supplies, we also save money on our utility bills.
If we stop blowing leaves into the street because we want to use that organic material to build soil, we also experience more peace and quiet in our community.
If we stop spraying pesticides because we don’t want to expose ourselves and our neighbors to carcinogens, we also gain the opportunity to observe more life in our yards.
We all have different reasons for choosing to switch to more sustainable gardening practices. But whatever our entry point, we can hardly help bringing about a whole host of additional advantages for ourselves and others. That is the power of co-benefits.