Earth Day is on April 22nd, and this year we are celebrating it by sharing some everyday household tips on how to contribute to a healthier planet while, at the same time, enjoying some perks for you and your family.
Tip #1: Grow Your Own Food
It’s been estimated that a piece of produce from your supermarket has traveled an average of 1,500 miles, meaning a significant emission of carbon monoxide from semi-truck travel. Planting for yourself a nice edible garden in a window box, planter, or raised garden bed will turn that 1,500 miles into 15 feet or so of travel, as you head out to your backyard garden to grab some fresh tomatoes, cukes, basil, and other fresh and chemical-free produce.
This tip is not only good for the environment, but also for your wallet, considering the average American garden can grow approximately 300 pounds of produce (worth approximately $600) annually. How to maximize your edible garden? Only plant veggies and fruits that you and your family like, and freeze any extra produce for use at a later date.
It’s been estimated that we throw out an average of 40% of the food we grow in this country. This equates to roughly 1.2 million tons of food waste clogging our landfills each year. And an estimated 1/3 of this waste can be composted. Food scraps like wilted lettuce, banana peels, egg shells and much, much more can be set aside and used as compost to fortify your soil with rich nutrients for your garden.
According to recent statistics, the average American household uses up to 350 gallons of water everyday. Factor this into The World Bank’s prediction that by 2025, two-thirds of the global population will run short of fresh drinking water. And since an estimated 50% of the water we use outdoors in our gardens is lost to evaporation, wind, and runoff, knowing how to use water more effectively in the garden is critical. So just how do we enjoy a healthy, watered garden while conserving water?
Collect water in rain barrels.You can save an average of 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months alone by collecting water this way for use in your garden and yard. Find out the regulation laws for rain barrels usage in your state here.
Use drip irrigation. This waters your plants directly at the root zone, where it is most utilized, preventing water waste.
Invest in self-watering planters, which have a built-in reservoir insert that automatically wicks water up into the plant’s soil as needed.
Selecting plants that are native to your area for your garden is a great way to minimize your footprint. Typically, native plants are easier to maintain and require less water and fertilizer, as they’re already well-adapted to your area. As an added bonus, native plants in your garden will attract pollinators and beneficial bugs, which support both the health of your garden and a more sustainable ecosystem.
Find out which plants are native to your area here.
Tip #5: Start a Community Garden
Community gardens have long been popular in urban areas, where green space is scarce. However, many communities, both urban and rural, have started community gardens in their area because of its many benefits — environmental, social, and economical. The environmental benefits of community gardens are many: they provide a habitat for pollinators, increase rainwater drainage, recycle organic waste through compost, and reduce the “heat island” effect in urban areas.
As for health benefits, one study found that community gardeners consumed fruits and vegetables 5.7 times per day (exceeding the national recommendation for 5 times per day). And not to be overlooked are the fact that community gardens encourage physical activity, working outdoors, and handling soil (which is proven to have an antidepressant effect).
To find or start a community garden in your area, start here.
“Green” Gardening in Small Spaces
Even if you live in an apartment, condo, or some other small space, you can still enjoy your very own garden space, and one that supports the environment. For more eco-friendly garden tips and tools, visit us at www.windowbox.com or call us at 1-888-427-3362.