House of Brinson, one of my favorite blogs, recently asked me and several other blogs to participate in One Small Thing — in which each blogger posts monthly about one small change we are making in our lives that will have a positive health or environmental impact.
I love this idea because I feel that a lot of people (myself included) can have trouble making healthier choices because it feels overwhelming. But if we can think of one small change we can make each month, that will add up to be a much healthier year! And as a side note, I think this philosophy can be applied to almost any life goal.
The biggest change we made this summer was to plant a garden — but we were and continue to be shocked at how LITTLE effort it took on our part to reap the benefits.
Last year, we mapped out and dug the garden. That was not one small thing, it was a big job, but it was a one time effort that we will benefit from for years to come (or, the new owners of the house will, but you get the picture).
This year, we spent ONE day going to the nursery, picking out about $75 worth of vegetable plants, laying out landscape fabric, and planting the plants.
That is literally all we have done. (Okay, not literally, Steve also put a few tomato cages up once the tomato plants started getting too big.) Thanks to the rainy summer, we haven’t even watered it yet. And the landscape fabric means zero weeds to pull!
And now, we have a whole garden full of delicious, fresh produce and we find ourselves producing less waste BECAUSE –
We are picking only the food we need.
A lot of times, when I go shopping for produce, I end up buying a bit too much. The end of a bag of lettuce goes bad, or the last few cucumbers get mold on them, or I never get around to using the rest of that basil I bought for a recipe. Even though we only threw out a small amount of produce each week, it really made me feel guilty and I was always trying to find ways to reduce that waste.
Sidenote : We do compost our food – which is another great small thing you can do to reduce landfill waste! Just keep a small, covered container in your kitchen and fill it with fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds. Empty it as you would your garbage into a bin outside, or even an open compost pile far enough from your house that it won’t draw curious animals. Stir it up every so often and you’ll have great fertilizer for your garden next year!
In our garden, we currently have cucumbers, various lettuces, sweet and hot peppers, squash, squash flowers, broccoli and cauliflower that are ripe enough to pick. We harvested all of our onions and potatoes last week. We also have several herbs growing, including parsley, rosemary, spicy oregano, sage, basil, chives, chocolate mint, and lemon balm. Soon, we will have ripe tomatoes and eggplant, and later in the season we will have pumpkins.
When we eat from the garden, we are either creating recipes based on what is ready that week, or we are picking things as they are needed for recipes. We have a ton of salad greens, so I’ve been making a lot of green-based smoothies with frozen banana (frozen in their own skins to avoid plastic use!) and water. Refreshing and healthy and a great way to use the abundant lettuce. We’ve been using the cucumbers as snacks throughout the week, and whenever we run out, there are a few more ripe and ready. The onions and peppers have been added to omelets daily. And the herbs might be my favorite — we’ve made caprese with the basil and used the rosemary in stuffing for fried squash flowers — and unlike when we buy them at the store — we only pick what we can use for one recipe. I plan to make a big batch of falafel with the parsley this week!
We have eliminated most plastic produce packaging.
Another huge perk of eating from the garden is that you aren’t buying produce that is packaged in plastic. Another way you could avoid this, if you haven’t started a garden, is to eat food from farm stalls or the farmer’s market. Even food that is in season is sometimes packaged in plastic at the grocery store for convenience — think cucumbers in a little plastic tote, tomatoes in hard plastic containers, spinach and romaine in plastic bags. All of that waste is effortlessly avoided by eating your garden vegetables instead.
I hope this inspires someone out there to try planting a garden! It’s not too late in the year, even if you just plant a small raised bed with salad greens or a window box full of fresh herbs. That little bit of effort will reap so many benefits for your health and the health of the environment. Plus, it’s so satisfying!
Please check out my fellow bloggers and their posts about “One Small Thing” they’ve changed this month.