A growing number of Americans are investing in one of the healthiest consumer trends in recent years: plant parenting. According to NBC News, the millennial generation has become increasingly invested in the cultivation and care of houseplants as a way to disconnect from technology.
“Americans spend 93% of our time indoors,” said Eliza Blank, the CEO of indoor plant retailer The Sill. “Plants resonate with millennials as an antidote to this insane connectivity [to technology].”
Plants, Blank says, provide Americans with an escape from their screens and give them something to take care of outside of themselves.
“When it’s all self-driving cars and data in our contact lenses,” said Blank, “we’re still going to want plants.”
The gardening industry has seen record increases in recent years. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the sale of plants, flowers, and seeds has increased since 2016. In August 2018, The Sill closed on $5 million in funding.
A large chunk of this funding is due to the popularity of plants among millennials. A 2017 National Garden Survey found that 5 million out of the 6 million Americans taking up gardening in 2016 were between the ages of 18 and 34.
But why are younger millennials taking up gardening?
NBC News says younger millennials often live in rental apartments or urban areas and aren’t financially ready to care for children or have pets. Millennials also don’t have access to much outdoor space aside from local parks.
“No 25-year-old that I know has six hours on a Sunday (or a backyard) to spend gardening,” said Blank, “but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an interest in plants!”
Millennials have been recently drawn to greenery due to plant care’s mental health benefits.
A sense of responsibility and care can provide stress relief, which is crucial to millennials who have higher stress levels than older generations. The American Psychological Association has found that millennials aren’t the greatest at managing their high stress levels, either, often turning to alcohol and unhealthy food.
The average American eats a little over one burger a week. Stress eating with unhealthy foods can cause obesity, which puts you more at greater risk for health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer, which affects one in eight women in the United States.
Plant care provides millennials with a healthier alternative to these habits while also providing real therapeutic benefits. The presence of plants also helps to create a sanctuary at home for many millennials.
“Green, leafy plants are good for our mental outlook,” said environmental psychology Dr. Sally Augustin. “Something about the colors and the shapes helps our brains think more creatively, cut stress levels, and get along better with others.”
Houseplants not only help to improve productivity and reduce stress but they also clean the air and improve oxygen levels. This can be beneficial for a generation that often relies on wellness and physical activity to prevent medical conditions they can’t afford to treat.
For instance, one in three adults receive 30 minutes of physical activity every day and Americans consumed 6.6 gallons of fruit juice per capita in 2015 alone. By introducing houseplants into the home environment, millennials are creating an even healthier lifestyle.
“Plants affect our mood,” said Augustin. “When our mood is more positive and we’re happier, our brains start to work in a different way.” Augustin recommends placing green, leafy plants with relaxed shapes around your home and office for this reason.