Climate change is here, whether we are skeptical about it or not. While government authorities fight over what laws, if any, they will enact to save our planet, the rest of us are wondering what we can do on the small scale to help.
If you want to take up weapons against rapidly warming temperatures, you might try reaching for your spade and trowel.
A 2016 study conducted at UC Santa Barbara found that growing your vegetables at home can help lower your carbon footprint. The study noted that how much, if at all, a homegrown vegetable garden helps depends on how you go about it.
This is, of course, reasonable. If you’re slathering your garden in fossil-fuel derived pesticides and fertilizer, while at the same time throwing away half your vegetables without eating them, your garden may actually be destructive to the environment instead of helpful.
If, however, you compost your vegetable scraps and use the compost to feed your garden, you’re not only benefiting from local vegetables that traveled just a few feet to get to your plate, you’re also keeping your food waste out of landfill.
More importantly, if you eat all the vegetables from your garden, you’ll be reducing the number of vegetables you get from other countries. A tomato in the middle of winter is a tomato that has to be shipped thousands of miles in order to reach your plate.
If you use “grey water” to water the garden, or you stopped using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides because it is now a vegetable garden, your carbon footprint reduces even more, according to the study.
The study estimates that a garden that’s just 18.7 square meters (about a third of an average sized lawn) is enough for about 50% of an average family’s vegetable needs.
The truth is though, even if you can only manage a pot of lettuce on your doorstep, growing some of your vegetables yourself can make a dent in the global warming crisis.