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Stop to smell the flowers

Book>> Plants: Why you can’t live without them • by B C Wolverton • Roli books • Rs 495

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Thursday 15 July 2010

imageFor climate experts plants are just sources of carbon credits. This is unfair, for human beings and plants connect in many other ways. The book uncovers these linkages. It provides information on how plants can improve the environment, which is steadily deteriorating from pollutants.

The focus is on indoor environment and draws from the experience of NASA, where one of the authors worked. Everyone knows plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. The book shows carbon dioxide is the least of our problems. The indoor air is full of volatile organic compounds from the plastics, adhesives and chemicals used to build the interiors. The annual cost of cleaning these sick buildings using modern technology is pegged at US $58 billion. But there is a far cheaper way: use plants.

imageThe book uses examples from India and the US to show how green spaces can be created in lighted areas in buildings. They can take the place of modern amenities like filters and absorbents. If there is shortage of space, walls can be used. An indoor environment that has a lot of plants can reduce headaches by 45 per cent. Chances of dry skin are also much less.

The interiors are not the only beneficiaries. Besides good air, gardens are places of physical activity—we don’t do much of it today. The interested might even use gardens to grow vegetables. The authors also discuss the feasibility of rooftop gardens and provide an overview of the technology. The authors also mention the use of plants as medicines and for waste management.

But the book could have done with simplicity of presentation. Abbreviations are used copiously and one has to constantly go back to see what they stand for.

Vibha Varshney, science editor of Down To Earth, is a plant buff

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