There's a spicy act currently touring Australia. It's not a music festival with an international line-up, but a pop-up of monstera, peace lillies and hanging ferns. It's an indoor plant sale.
In 2017, Melbourne-based The Jungle Collective launched a plant sale worlds away from your local nursery's. Its roving plant parties involve a DJ, "designer pots", a secret location, costume themes and most importantly, hype. It continues its wisteria-like creep through social media and registrations are capped.
The collective hosted more than 60 events throughout Australia's capital cities last year, drawing crowds with terminology like "indoor plant party", "Rumble in the Jungle" and "Bohemian-style warehouse".
More than 1000 people are set to attend the first Canberra event, and a further 6330 people have marked themselves as interested.
The popularity of The Jungle Collective’s events reflects a growing demand for indoor plants which has swept through the Millennial mainstream in recent years.Credit:Plant Mama
The popularity of the event reflects a growing demand for indoor plants that has swept through the mainstream in recent years. Instagram plant pages saw a surge in followers about 2016. In the 2014-15 financial year, Senate documents showed 10 Australian government departments spent more than $400,000 on indoor plants as a result of studies that linked indoor plants to office productivity.
The Jungle Collective's hype, music, and event-based approach to flogging indoor plants might be innovative, but our willingness to buy what they're selling is not.
The Millennial obsession with our parent's stuff goes beyond the potted plant, the art-deco cactus that's somehow meant to imbue our dank apartments with kitschy California desert vibes.
First, there was tea. The past seven years have seen an increase in Millennial tea consumption due to companies like T2 making tea a premium product, concocting brews to put nanna's English Breakfast to shame.
Then there was the resurgence of '60s-style caravan dwelling, the #VanLife movement which spread as a result of dreamy lifestyle shots on Instagram and it being, for some Millennials, an answer to the unaffordable housing market.
And perhaps that's why indoor plants joined the party.
Sprucing up our sharehouses, inner-city studios and granny flats in mum's backyard with a touch of greenery perhaps makes us feel as if we're laying our roots. The notion of buying our own place is a faraway dream, one that's constantly mocked with avocado toast think pieces, so the house plants shroud us in our own little jungles of hope.
The plants provide sample-size bites of wellness, another Millennial obsession. You can feel less miserable about skipping that hike or swapping a green juice for a sugary iced chai when you're faced with potted reminders that you're at least improving the air quality.
Indoor plants fulfil a need to nurture something without child-rearing levels of commitment, or maintain the appearance of doing so. If you're not quite ready to breed, nothing says "fertility" quite like being surrounded by flourishing foliage.
A plant is a living trophy, a way to assert: "I grew this! I made this!" It's a simple mark of achievement, a slice of realness in an ephemeral, technologised world.
The top #UrbanJungle posts on Instagram.Credit:Instagram
But let's cut to it: it's an aesthetic. You've seen the VSCO-filtered shots of white-washed interiors, minimalist up-cycled furniture with a verdant fern effortlessly punctuating the space. There are 1,910,460 Instagram posts with the hashtag #UrbanJungle and 2,289,822 posts with #PlantsOfInstagram.
Plant-parenting is the fetish of 2019 thanks to Instagram accounts like Boys With Plants, a page that shows blokes surrounded by greenery, their abs whimsically tickled with the limbs of a rubber fig. Succulent.
Businesses like T2 and The Jungle Collective have simultaneously taken advantage of this millennial interest in nostalgic products, while driving it.
There's nothing wrong with Millennials acquiring and nurturing indoor plants, or loving tea, or tearing down the coast in a cozy van, it's the tokenistic flavour of it all. But like fads before, it's only temporary. And cyclical. Soon enough, we'll find another new way to morph into our parents.
The Jungle Collective will host the Huge Indoor Plant Sale in Canberra on February 16 and 17 at a secret location. The event is free, but tickets are required. Tickets will be released on Facebook on February 11.
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