5 Zero Waste Spring Activities to Do This Season

zero waste spring activities

Can you believe spring is finally here? Well, almost here. It officially begins March 20th, but still! So exciting. I love living in tune with the seasons, and spring is definitely one of my favorites. Summer will always be my favorite season (warm days and delicious fruits abound), but spring is always a welcome change of pace. After a long, cold winter, I can look forward to longer days filled with more sunlight, strawberries making their appearance at the farmers market, and flowers and trees bursting to life. Spring brings to mind tulips and daffodils, fragrant cherry blossom trees, fresh leafy greens, and chirping robins. There’s something about spring that makes you feel renewed and full of vigor. It conjures up feelings of new beginnings, inspiring us to start fresh. It’s also a time when more produce starts to come into abundance: I absolutely love seeing strawberries and asparagus appear at my farmers market, which I will definitely be talking about later on in this post. So, if you want to celebrate spring, reduce your waste and live seasonally, you’re in the right place. Here are 5 zero waste spring activities to do before the season ends!

P.S.: This is a mini series (with each new season, I list zero waste activities you can do – I already did fall and winter, this is spring, so that just leaves summer). Be on the lookout for summer next!


5 Zero Waste Spring Activities

First off, it’s important to note when spring begins and ends. Lots of people believe that as soon as March arrives, spring starts, but that’s not true at all. A good majority of March is actually still winter: Spring doesn’t start until March 20th, depending on the year (Northern Hemisphere). For 2019, spring started March 20th and ends on June 21st. Just something to keep in mind as the season progresses.

1. Stock up on seasonal produce (AKA leafy greens + strawberries!)

zero waste spring activities
This was a late spring produce haul from 2018. Some tomatoes came into season early that year!

Spring is such an exciting time at the farmers market. After a long winter of having only apples to look forward to, I finally get to eat strawberries!

I have one farmers market in my community that stays open year round, which I’m very fortunate to have. It’s definitely a bit of a drive from my home, but I love supporting local farmers so I don’t mind at all. I bring my compost pail with me every week and stock up on all these delicious foods.

It’s important to note that spring foods don’t tend to make an appearance at the farmers market right away. They take a while to grow, after all. Usually by the beginning of June, they’re in full swing and taste incredible. It’s 100 percent worth the wait.

However, around May we usually get some new additions to our farmers market like arugula, asparagus and spinach. It’s a real treat after eating nothing but kale, apples, potatoes and carrots all winter.

We also continue to buy apples, specifically Pink Ladies, which are so juicy and tasty. They have a fantastic crunch to them and the perfect blend of sweet and tart.

Rhubarb also appears at the market during the spring. I’ve never gotten it before, but I’ve heard you can make strawberry rhubarb pie which would be an interesting thing to try.

Occasionally, tomatoes will make an early appearance in the later months of spring, though they are a summer food. Still, it’s always a welcome change of pace.

My mom and I love making spring salads with spinach, strawberries, kale, cooked asparagus and some arugula. After a long winter of strictly kale-only salads, it feels good to get in some other leafy greens.

I highly recommend you check out your own local farmers market and see what’s in season near you.

Take your reusable produce bags and tote bags with you to avoid waste! Here are my zero waste farmers market essentials.

Spring foods to stock up on:

  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Chives
  • Watercress
  • Dandelion greens
  • Artichoke
  • Garlic scapes
  • Bok choy
  • Chard
  • Green onions
  • Lettuce
  • Lemon
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Beets
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Snap peas
  • Sprouts
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots 
  • Peas

These are just some of the seasonal spring foods you’ll encounter at the farmers market. Of course, this list varies depending on your location, and what your farmers decide to grow. Something can be in season but not sold at your market simply because the farmer doesn’t grow it, so keep that in mind.

For example, while peas are in season during spring, they never typically pop up at my market because no one there grows them.

Also, sometimes the region you’re in really plays a big factor in what grows there. For example, artichokes are never available at my farmers market because no one grows them in New York. But in California, artichokes are at their peak at the farmers market during spring.

Do research into what’s seasonal to your area. You might be surprised at what you find!

 2. Plant something (or get plastic free flowers)

zero waste spring activities
Daffodils are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and very common to see.
One of my favorite zero waste spring activities is definitely planting something. Spring is all about the re-emergence of life, right? Why not join in that? 

I have a stash of organic seeds I store in a paper envelope. I don’t own a plot of land for gardening (I live in an apartment), so instead I utilize my container garden. My windowsill gets great sunlight, and I’ve been able to grow a lot of things on it.

One of my favorite practices is growing something from seed. I highly recommend you give it a go. It’s so rewarding.

The easiest plant to grow from seed is definitely organic basil, if you ask me. It was my first plant that I grew from seed. I literally watched it sprout from the tiniest little black dot into the most beautiful, fragrant plant I’ve ever owned. Watching it grow was downright magical. No one can take those memories away from me.

So this spring? Try growing something yourself. You don’t have to have a lot of space. All you need is a little terra cotta pot, some organic seeds, organic soil and you’re good to go. 

You can also plant something on your property, if you have the space.  Maybe start up that garden you’ve always wanted to create? Or just plant a cute little plant you got from the farmers market. Totally up to you.

If planting isn’t your thing, why not get some plastic free flowers to welcome spring into your home? I challenge you to go on a hunt for plastic free flowers.

The Trader Joe’s by me sells some plastic free flowers. They wrap them in paper instead, which is definitely an improvement…but there are some wrapped in plastic there as well, which is a bummer.

My farmers market also sells flowers, sometimes plastic free, sometimes not. It varies as the season goes on.

When in doubt, you could always ask your local florist to wrap the flowers in paper instead of plastic. Usually, they’re more than happy to accommodate you. Get some nice spring flowers like tulips or daffodils. Or, ask the florist if  they have any native spring flowers in stock. You never know, right?

3. Whip up some spring themed dishes

zero waste spring activities
I made this salad last spring using farmers market produce. The tomatoes had come into season early so that was a bonus.

Since you’re buying all that yummy, seasonal spring produce, why not make it into something tasty? Spring is all about detoxing and eating lighter, greener meals. I love making salads in particular. I also love adding strawberries to my oatmeal bowls!

Cooking using seasonal produce is one of those zero waste spring activities that’s practically mandatory. You are seriously missing out if you’re not incorporating seasonal foods into your diet this time of year. Plus, it’s fun to cook these dishes with friends or family. Making it into a group effort is a great bonding experience!

Here are a few spring themed dishes to whip up:

4. Go strawberry picking

zero waste spring activities
Nothing tastes better than a farmers market strawberry. Well, nothing except hand picked strawberries.
I want to go strawberry picking so bad this year. The problem is, the time to do it is pretty slim. You have to go in June. There’s no way around it. Most farms close up shop after June is over.

But there’s nothing like picking berries straight off the vine! You really get to interact with your food this way, and see how it’s being grown. Plus, nothing tastes better than fresh strawberries!

I do recommend trying to find an organic strawberry farm though. According to EWG, strawberries ranked highest on their Dirty Dozen list. This means conventionally grown  strawberries have tons of pesticides on them, and you really don’t want that in your body.

Before you go, see via the farmer’s social media accounts how they package the strawberries. Most farms will give you plastic containers you can put the strawberries you pick into. To avoid this, be sure to call up the farm and ask them if it’s okay for you to take your own containers. I’ve done this before (when I went raspberry picking) and they said it was totally fine. I brought empty paper cartons I held onto from my farmers market!

You can do the same, just be aware they usually charge by the carton size. They might also weigh it. It depends on the farm.

You can find some nice farms near you by utilizing Pick-Your-Own, a free resource that will show you pick your own farms in your town. I’ve used this website to find several farms near me in the past so I really love it.

Once you get home, you can continue to store them in the containers you brought with you, put them in a bowl in the fridge, or seal them in a mason jar. I like to freeze some too (here’s how to freeze food without plastic).

5. Visit the park and look at the budding trees and flowers 

zero waste spring activities
A magnolias tree, blooming up a storm. So beautiful.

Nothing makes me happier than heading to the park on a spring day and seeing everything in bloom. Here in New York, we have some really beautiful parks too.

I live in Staten Island specifically, which is one of the greenest boroughs in terms of park space. My favorite park on Staten Island is definitely Clove Lake. It’s a beautiful lake surrounded by lots of paths and wooded area. I go there all the time in the spring and summer.

During the spring, I especially love finding and identifying all the different plant species that pop up. I consider myself an amateur forager, so I love doing that come spring as well.

I love foraging for violets and dandelions specifically. There’s a violet patch that grows in Clove Lake park that is just so stunning. I once found a little praying mantis while admiring them. So cute.

You can use violets and dandelions in a number of ways, if you’re interested in learning more about foraging. Personally, I love infusing violets with honey and making tea out of dandelion flowers.

Violets are also native to New York, which is why I get so excited to see them. We have a lot of invasive species here that hurt native species and thus the ecosystem. Whenever I forage for violets, I am always very respectful and never take too much. They also don’t bloom for very long (usually from April to May) so their beauty is ephemeral (which makes them even more beautiful in my eyes).

I also enjoy just walking around the park and identifying different trees, like dogwoods, magnolias or cherry blossoms. They bloom so beautifully in the spring time it makes my heart swell.

And of course, there’s the added benefit of seeing animals! I love the moments I get to see baby animals in the spring. They’re rare, but I’ve definitely seen a few baby birds here and there. So adorable. 

The best part about going to a local park is it doesn’t require money to get in (unless it’s a national park, then it might). It’s a fun, free activity you can do with your loved ones or alone. And it doesn’t create any waste.

Just make sure to bring a reusable water bottle with you, and any other zero waste essentials you may need. Here’s what my zero waste to go kit entails. I take it with me everywhere.

zero waste spring activities

What are your favorite zero waste spring activities? I’d love to hear about them.

Also, be on the lookout for my next post in this series, all about zero waste summer activities.

Until then, stay tuned… 

By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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