Kamal Meattle was told by his doctors that he would have to leave New Delhi, one of the cities with the world’s dirtiest air, to save his lungs and health. Instead of fleeing his home, he consulted a 1989 study by NASA before developing a unique tactic for cleaning the air of his office building: a greenhouse containing hundreds of common household plants, including money plant, areca palm and mother-in-law’s tongue.
While several studies have been published supporting Meattle’s own discoveries, others criticize the experiment for the sheer inconvenience of housing so many plants under one roof. An average home of 1,500 sq ft would need at least 37 plants to simulate a similar set up to Meattle’s Paharpur Business Center.
Despite this criticism, there is plenty of evidence that supports the benefits plants provide for our planet's air. They're visually inviting and pleasing, they provide a calming influence, are beneficial to our well-being, among a multitude of other benefits. While the kinks of his experiment still require some kneading before the method can be readily available to all, Meattle is certainly onto something.
“Why did Buddha sit under the peepul [or Bodhi] tree?” Meattle asks Wendy Koch during a 2014 interview for National Geographic. “The sacred fig with with heart-shaped leaves releases oxygen even at night, allowing those beneath a light sleep.” – From Can Houseplants Really Clean the World’s Smoggiest City? by Wendy Koch for National Geographic.