Costa Farms is engaging the next generation of consumers by bringing indoor plants to college campuses. The campaign kicked off last week at the University of Florida (UF). Three hundred peace lilies (spathiphyllums) were distributed as “free air purifiers” as part of Costa’s O2 For You campaign.
Based in Homestead, Fla., it made sense to begin with the UF Gators in Gainesville, but Costa’s marketing manager, Marta Maria Garcia, didn’t start with the floriculture department, where students are already interested in plants. She contacted marketing students and Gators for a Sustainable Campus, whom were also supported by the American Lung Association and the Clean Air Council.
On Wednesday, April 15, students and faculty swarmed the Plaza of the Americas at 9:50 a.m. and all the plants were distributed within 40 minutes. Those who took plants were asked to sign a large board pledging to live a greener life. Student organizers became part of an ambassador network to educate fellow students on the benefits of having indoor plants in their dorms. They distributed postcards that said using one plant for each 100 square feet of space can remove up to 87 percent of indoor air pollutants. Costa is promoting indoor houseplants as “living green heroes.”
“We want to communicate the benefits of indoor houseplants,” says Jose Smith, Costa Farms CEO. “Most people are unaware of all the pollutants that exist in the indoor air environment–the glue used on rugs, the tint used in photo copying in the office. We
should be concerned equally about the indoor environment as we are the outdoors.”
The National Safety Council reports 90 percent of a person’s time is spent indoors. EPA found indoor air pollution to be up to 10 times higher or worse than outdoors. “O2 for You was launched to help people associate the health benefits of indoor plants just as they do with blueberries and antioxidants,” Smith says. “We plan to roll out phase two this spring, summer and fall in hospitals and college campuses throughout America. We’re excited the message that indoor houseplants provide healthy benefits is catching on.”
Editor’s note: Costa’s campaign on college campuses is a great approach. So many growers and garden retailers fell in love with plants in their dorm rooms during the green boom in the 1970s and collected them. For some, their hobby became large greenhouse businesses 20 years later. Ken and Deena Altman of Altman Plants in Vista, Calif. come to mind with cacti and succulents, and also Mitch McDonald of Botany Lane Greenhouse in Colorado.