Green thumbs welcome at the Mix

Illustration by Monique R | The Signal

Georgia State students still living downtown amid the coronavirus pandemic are buying plants to stay in touch with nature.

Gov. Brian Kemp recently extended Georgia’s shelter-in-place order to the end of April, allowing only essential travel. Parks remain open, but these students are trying to bring nature to The Mix, an off-campus student residence.

Hanna Osborne and Lauren Pendergraft are second-year students at Georgia State and roommates at The Mix.

Osborne and Pendergraft have always had an affinity for plants. Their love for their leafy friends has grown since Georgia’s shelter-in-place order was put in place, and they have to spend more time inside their apartment.

“Buying plants makes me very happy,” Osborne said. “Every time I go into Home Depot, I get excited, and it is impossible for me to walk out of the store empty-handed. Seeing my plants grow is the best part, especially during this pandemic. I have enough time to sit around and see them get bigger.”

Osborne and Pendergraft’s love for plants did not begin with being quarantined.

“My mom always had plants in our house, but it wasn’t until I saw how cute they looked in Hanna’s room that my interest really took off,” Pendergraft said.

Osborne added that The Mix is the perfect environment she has been searching for to nurture her plants.

“At home, I did not have a place with enough sunlight to keep plants. Now that I live in my own apartment with large windows and a balcony, plants are able to flourish under more suitable conditions,” Osborne said.

Indoor plants have shown to improve air quality in indoor environments, as well as decrease stress, blood pressure and improve productivity.

“[Buying plants] is honestly therapeutic,” Pendergraft said. “It gives me a sense of purpose to take care of them, and I get so excited when I see they’re growing and thriving. Having a lot of plants in my place makes me feel like the air in my apartment is somewhat fresh.”

It can be hard to feel connected to nature while living in a major city. To combat this, the pair visit nearby parks as their essential outdoor activity to get some fresh air.

“I love going to Oakland Cemetery because they have the coolest plants, and Piedmont Park is always a nice escape to some fresh air in the city,” Pendergraft said.

Osborne and Pendergraft continued to adhere to social distancing guidelines when venturing outside of their apartment. The two “stay green” by buying plants and eating at home.

“As much as I love the beltline, I have steered clear of visiting it during the pandemic as I know there are still way too many people there,” Osborne said.

As important as it is to support local restaurants during this time, Osborne has stayed thoughtful of how many single-use products she uses.

“I have tried to cut back and be more mindful of how many paper, plastic and Styrofoam supplies I am consuming,” Osborne said. “Most restaurants can only hand out Styrofoam boxes right now and I am trying to do my part to not over-consume these products.”

Collecting plants is a way for Osborne and Pendergraft to maintain their closeness to the outdoors and cultivate their apartment space. But most importantly, plants have strengthened their bond as roommates, friends and plant parents.