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!)
|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:
- Dandelion greens
- Garlic scapes
- Bok choy
- Green onions
- Snap 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)
|Daffodils are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and very common to see.|
3. Whip up some spring themed dishes
|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!
- Strawberry spinach salad: Simple but oh so delicious.
- Lemon orzo salad with asparagus, spinach and feta: If you enjoy pasta salad, but want a healthier option, give this a go.
- Pan seared trout fillet with watercress vinaigrette: If you like eating fish, this is one way to incorporate watercress into your meal.
- Spring minestrone soup: Who says you can’t eat soup in the spring?
- Lemon asparagus pasta: Creamy and delicious, for when you’re craving a heartier meal (you can easily leave out the chicken if you’re vegetarian too).
4. Go strawberry picking
|Nothing tastes better than a farmers market strawberry. Well, nothing except hand picked strawberries.|
5. Visit the park and look at the budding trees and flowers
|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.
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…