Sustainability

Mexico’s Vertical Gardens: A Genuine Pillar For Change?

4 months ago

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Mexico’s Vertical Gardens: A Genuine Pillar For Change?

As environmental sustainability becomes increasingly necessary, various innovative solutions continue to pop up. The latest concept can be found in Mexico City, where concrete pillars are being converted into ‘vertical gardens’.

Mexico Air Pollution | Jason Wicks

Mexico Air Pollution

Historically, Mexico City has constantly grappled with air pollution. So much so, that officials have previously issued environmental alerts, urging people to stay inside.

Over the years, this has led to a bizarre range of environmental policies. In 1989, the government launched a driving ban meaning there was one day a week that you couldn’t drive your car, depending on it’s license plate number.

While these policies, amongst others, slowly helped ‘clean up’ Mexico City, progress has stalled in recent years.

It’s because of this, that they’ve become a little bit more creative.

Vertical Gardens

Known as ‘Via Verde’, this unique project aims to convert motorway pillars into vertical gardens.

The citizen-led initiative, in collaboration with the government, will convert 1000 pillars spanning 27km. All in all, 60,000 square metres of garden will be installed.

Their claim, from an environmental perspective, is that the vertical gardens will provide oxygen for 2500 people. They also state that the gardens will collect 5000kg of dust and 27,000 tonnes of gasses. 

Video

Naturally, the best way to learn about the vertical gardens is to see it in action. The video below shows it pretty well:

Longevity

As you can see from the video, the vertical gardens are designed with longevity in mind. Considering sustainability is the goal here, low cost-low effort maintenance is absolutely crucial.

The gardens use a clever hydroponic textile instead of soil, which the plants gradually weave into over time. They also include an automated rainwater irrigation system that can be monitored remotely. On top of that, the plants chosen are of high strength and low water consumption, ensuring they survive as long as possible.

Criticisms

Just like my article on White Roads, this concept has split opinion. As always, the most notable concern comes down to cost. As people were quick to point out, the cost associated with a vertical garden on just one pillar is the same as planting 300 trees.

When the costs are so high, it’s no wonder people think that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

However, unlike the White Roads, perhaps this critique is unfair?

Firstly, the vertical gardens main strength is the clever use of space. Sure, you could plant 300 trees for the same price, but you wouldn’t be able to do so in the middle of the city.

Realistically, these vertical gardens may be costly, but they directly take advantage of what would otherwise be metres and metres of useless concrete.

What’s more, they inject a nice bit of colour into the city and make a real statement about the value they place on environmental preservation.

Mexico Vertical Gardens | Jason Wicks

A Genuine Solution?

As always with these articles, I try to conclude whether or not these ideas offer genuine solutions. In my article about The Ocean Cleanup, I spoke about balancing prevention and cure.

That logic applies here.

Sure, the vertical gardens may help, but they can’t exist as an excuse to no longer try to prevent the issue. If governments use vertical gardens to justify developing on green areas, then we’re back to square one.

However, if governments use them to cleverly add more green areas to congested cities, then their future looks much better.

That being said, as I mentioned in my FinalStraw post, we still need to constantly ask ourselves the following question:

In an ‘ideal, sustainable world’, would this idea be the norm?

Personally, when it comes to vertical gardens, I saw yes.

Sure, it can’t be at the expense of actual trees and nature, but it seems likely that this sort of concept will be commonplace in the environmentally responsible world of the future.

Summary

  • Cities and organisations have started being more innovative.
  • Vertical gardens in Mexico is a prime example of this.
  • They make use of ‘dead space’ and are easy to maintain.
  • However, critics feel that the government could spend their money better.
  • Although, provided that vertical gardens aren’t used to replace nature, it’s highly likely that they will be commonplace around the world.

Hi! I’m an author and blogger within the fields of social impact and responsible business. I believe that businesses can be a force for good in the world, and this website contains my thoughts on how that can work.

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