Growing Your Garden and Other Great Ways to Go Green
Do you know why the veggies you get from the farmers' market taste so much better than the veggies you buy at the store? Because more often than not, the veggies you get at the farmer's market are much fresher than the veggies you purchase at the grocery store. So ask yourself this: if the farmer's market produce is that much better than the supermarket's, how much better will the produce you grow yourself be than the produce you purchase at the farmer's market?
The answer? A lot.
Food you grow yourself always tastes better than produce from supermarkets and even for farmers' markets. This is because you get to eat them fresh out of the garden. It's also because growing things feels good and when you feel good, things taste better. It's also partially because you will have almost total control over how that produce is grown, which means you won't have to deal with the taste of pesticides or fertilizers if you don't want to use them.
A lot of families who think about growing their own fruits and vegetables focus on the taste and convenience factors. But there is a larger and, some might even argue, more important reason to start your own garden.
In addition to simply being better for you, growing your own veggies and other produce is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. You'll make fewer trips to the grocery store, reduce the amount of produce store's need to stock (when enough people do this, it reduces the number of trucks needed to drive that produce from farm to stores), reduce the amount of pesticide chemicals being released into the air, etc.
Starting your own garden is a great way to exert some control over your carbon footprint, especially if you live in a part of the world where you don't have much control over where your energy comes from or who supplies it--like a lot of us here in the United States.
It's true that most states are integrating renewable energy into their primarily fossil-fueled municipal power grids. Some states, like Texas, are even catching up to our Northern Neighbors and choosing to deregulate their energy industries. In Alberta Canada, for example, residents can shop for renewable energy providers and deals on sites like SustainableCitiesCollective to make sure that their carbon footprints are as small as possible.
But what if you live in a state where the energy market is regulated and/or you're operating on a tight budget that doesn't allow you to pay the money to switch your power from fossil fuels to renewable sources? What steps can you take to protect the planet? We've already talked a lot about gardening. Here are some other tips:
Compost is better for that garden you'll be growing than chemical-infused fertilizer you'll buy at the store and starting your own compost pile is really simple. Even if you live in an apartment, you can start your own compost pile using a worm bin that you keep under your sink. Composting reduces the amount of waste you toss out every day, which in turn reduces the amount of waste being put into landfills.
While you probably don't want to build an entire garden inside your home (though it's possible, via hydroponic gardening technology), you should still have real plants in every room. Flowers, small trees, ferns--these plants are great for scrubbing the air in a room and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that reaches our atmosphere.
Planting trees around your home is a great way to both prevent soil erosion on your property and to add some much needed shade to your home. Shading your home with trees will reduce the amount of sunlight that hits--and heats--your home, reducing your dependency on your mechanized heating and cooling systems. According to One Tree Planted, "The shade for a single tree can save the same amount of energy as what 10 room-size air conditioners need to run for 20 hours a day."
Setting up rain barrels isn't hard. To do it the simple way, all you have to do is put an open container outside and let it fill up with rain naturally. The hard way is a little bit more involved, but not by much. Collecting rainwater also helps prevent erosion on your property and it reduces your home's dependency on the municipal water supply. You can use collected rainwater for watering your garden and indoor plants as well as for washing your vehicle, etc.
There are lots of reasons to garden. The taste of fresh produce is just one of them. So what are you waiting for? Start planting!