Most cannabis consumers claim to be environmentalists. The American marijuana culture grew up with the ecology movement in the 197os and the ethos of sustainability and resource conservation. But as more and more studies of the severe environmental damage created by marijuana farming are published, cannabis consumers struggle to find a solution.
Colorado’s Rob and Linda Trotter, owners of TNT Ranch, may have found the answer. According to a report in the Vail Daily, the couple launched an operation called Pot Zero, which the Trotters claim produces the most environmentally conscious marijuana products in Colorado and beyond. The Trotters say that their marijuana farm creates no carbon footprint.
For decades, one of the biggest environmental challenges for cannabis farmers is the amount of electricity and water required. According to a landmark 2011 study, indoor marijuana cultivation consumes enough electricity to power two million average-sized US homes, or about 1 percent of national power consumption. Outdoor grows, of course, need much less electricity, but even sun-grown weed takes massive amounts of natural resources, especially water.
The price tag? Researcher Evan Mills, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who published the research independently from the lab, said it costs roughly $5 billion per year in national electricity. And that was six years ago. Mills estimated that the greenhouse gas emissions from grow operations was the equivalent of three million cars on the road.
A more recent report, a 2016 study by data-analysis firm New Frontier, confirmed Mills’ data: Marijuana production accounts for one percent of the nation’s electrical usage — equal to that used by 1.7 million average U.S. homes.
But the Trotters are teaming up with nature to create an environmentally friendly operation they hope will be a model for other conscientious growers. Their hydroelectric plant generates all the power the ranch needs and more. And, of course, they take full advantage of the sun.
The TNT Ranch, the Vail Daily reports, has been recognized twice for resource stewardship by the local Eagle County Soil Conservation District. In 2014, the TNT Ranch was named Large Acreage Conservationist of the Year.
“We are blessed with fantastic mountain loam soil, intense ultraviolet light because of our 8,200-foot elevation and water that comes directly to our property from a pristine, 12,500-foot mountain,” Rob Trotter told the paper. “When you bring all that together, the plants love it,” Rob Trotter said.
The couple’s ranch is 100 percent sustainable, zero carbon footprint and zero chemicals.
“We are very passionate about having the cleanest, greenest and most sustainable operation in Colorado. From an energy point of view, we’re sustainable. From an environmental point of view, we’re sustainable,” Rob Trotter said.