The Soil Story: Is it Possible to Erase Our Carbon Footprint Entirely?

soil story

It seems as though we’re constantly hearing about ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and that’s a good thing! But have you ever thought about how we can reverse the damage we’ve already done to the environment? Ryland Engelhart has, and that’s why he launched non-profit Kiss the Ground, complete with a video campaign. The Soil Story is intended to share the power of soil in restoring the earth’s carbon balance.

The entire project started with an idea, the idea that building healthy soil can help sequester carbon.

Engelhart first learned about this idea while watching a panel of scientists in New Zealand. The question of the moment was, “Can human beings sustain themselves on planet Earth?” The answer, as we can all imagine, was “not likely.”

However, there was a bit of hope. “One (scientist) brought up a hopeful solution, and that was soil,” Engelhart explains. “It turns out that soil has been a hidden potential carbon sink this whole time. The good news is we can build it back.”

Unlike many other solutions addressing the carbon emission problem, one of the key elements of the soil building strategy is not only stopping carbon emissions but replacing carbon in the soil. This not only reduces carbon in the atmosphere but ultimately creates healthier soil, leading to healthier food.

“This solution is not a silver bullet, but because it was not in most people’s minds until now, it is an exciting piece of news,” he says.

Together with co-founder Finian Makepeace, Engelhart set about brainstorming ways to share this information with the world, setting their sights on a potentially viral video campaign to bring this information to the masses.

Via connections from his popular California-based vegan restaurant chain Café Gratitude, Engelhart was able to get some big influencers on board like Willie Nelson and Jason Mraz, and The Soil Story was born. The video–in a Story of Stuff style homage to Annie Leonard’s viral videos–is a great way to learn more about this scientific development, but it has a second purpose: to increase awareness about a petition to build healthy soil in California, home to a major agricultural economy, the biggest in the U.S. If it takes off in California, it could spread quite quickly, helping sequester carbon everywhere.

Once you’ve signed the petition, there are other things that you can do to help, including making sustainable living choices every day and choosing sustainable restaurants and other sustainable businesses.

“Start your own garden!” suggests Engelhart. “Hyper local food systems not only reduce our food GHG but also has the ability to save water and change the climates of our cities. Another big one is sharing this message and asking our farmers to begin using regenerative practices.”

Whatever you do, be sure to check out the petition and video, and share it with your friends. Every little bit helps in moving towards a better carbon equilibrium!

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Image care of Kiss the Ground

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco