Getting in touch with our green fingers and how this helps in the fight for zero waste

IMG_0065One of my favourite things to do in the world is finding food in unexpected places. In England, you will often see Blackberries growing wild on the side of the road, and apple trees peppering gardens of an urban neighbourhood. The best thing about these ignored bounties is that they are pretty much organic, because they have grown of their own accord. Growing your own food is the best way to be self sufficient, self sustainable and know exactly what you are eating. However, I know this is not always feasible in this crowded city and the space we have to grow things is at the most, a balcony, but more likely a windowsill or two. I find the easiest place to start is growing herbs, and this is a great way to minimise plastic consumption too as most herbs in the large supermarkets will come wrapped in a plastic packet. They also live quite happily on a windowsill.

If you are happy to wait, growing from seed is always rewarding ,and completely zero waste but alternatively you can buy the ready plant at the supermarket. You will get the plastic film but at least its only on the first occasion rather than every time you want to use any herb, and watch it flourish under your care! I bought a tiny basil plant a while ago, and have watched it grow and grow into the pretty sizeable plant I have now- I up cycled this old (25 year old) saucepan which had holes in the base, so i opened some more holes and transformed it into a plant pot. The only issue is I am very protective over it and am guarding it with my life from my family who keep mentioning pesto…

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Also on my windowsill I have a mint plant, a small thyme and some parsley. In the garden, we have bay leaves, sage, chives and rosemary, all are a few years old. These could easily be kept on a windowsill too in a smaller pot, or a balcony if you have one.

It is so satisfying to cook a meal and incorporate herbs which you have tended to and looked after, not to mention you know exactly what the plant has been exposed to so there are no direct chemicals coming into your food. We have never needed to use pesticides on our herbs, so although their beginnings were probably not organic, they are now! I am on a mission to grow some fruit and veg on the balcony next year (as we are downsizing to a flat), so watch out for updates on my new plant babies! On my wish list are raspberries, lettuce, and spring onion (as they are all apparently relatively easy and need minimal space). For now I will keep caring for my herb children, and they will keep providing me with delicious herbs for my cooking.

In terms of zero waste, growing your own food cuts out the energy for the transportation of the food, unnecessary pesticide use, energy to keep it cool/ fresh in transit, the packaging for the food to be kept in the shop, any plastic to transport it home (if you were to use a plastic bag) AND saves you money! Between 30-40% of the food around the world is never eaten, because it is either spoiled in transit or thrown away by the shops or consumers. Unfortunately we have all become so reliant on mass corporations to feed us that we are disillusioned with the hard work which goes into growing food, so are completely disconnected with the process of agriculture and consequently so wasteful with what is thrown away. If we really understood that an apple tree takes 8-10 years to produce fruit, or one pepper can take up to 4 months to grow, would we be so frivolous with our waste? It is also so important for any food waste to go to compost. If food waste is dropped into landfill it is surrounded by plastic and cannot break down effectively in the same way it would in soil,  then which releases methane- this gas is 21 times more potent than CO2, which is the common scapegoat when it comes to global warming. We live in a cotton wool society where it is so easy to ignore the huge catastrophes happening around us, but this affects every living thing on the planet including ourselves although we seem to think we are invincible. I used to feel very apathetic and think there is nothing that can be done to change the world because it is in the hands of large corporations but every movement for change always started with one person. Small changes in our everyday life can be powerful when carried out by large numbers of people. The only good thing to come out of Tesco is their slogan; Every little helps.

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