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  3. Is Growing Your Own Fruit & Vegetables Sustainable?

Is Growing Your Own Fruit & Vegetables Sustainable?

Are you looking at ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle? An incredibly fulfilling way to do this is to grow your own fruit and veg. Not only can this benefit your mental and physical health, but there are also a lot of environmental benefits. Read this article to learn all about how sustainable it is to grow your own food at home.

Vegetable garden

Reduced Food Miles

‘Food miles’ refers to how far your food needs to travel before it gets to you. A lot of the UK’s emissions are reduced by importing food on boats rather than planes. However, once the food makes it in, shipping it around the UK produces roughly 109 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This accounts for 26% of all of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions!

Growing your own food in your garden can, therefore, hugely reduce your carbon footprint. Not only does the food not travel around the world before you get it, but you don’t need to drive to a supermarket for it. Imagine just popping into the back garden to do your shopping!

Reduced Carbon Footprint

Reducing your food miles naturally reduces your carbon footprint. This comes not only from the transport of food but also from all the energy that goes into commercial food production. For example, heating and lighting in greenhouses and machinery used in fields. Growing your own fruits and veg at home is much greener overall.

Biodiversity

When fresh produce is grown commercially, it tends to be done in large fields full of only one plant species. This is terrible for biodiversity. If more people were to grow produce at home, this would result in lots of small plots of land with multiple species planted. This dense, diverse planting is far better for promoting biodiversity and supporting wildlife including insects and pollinators.

Bumblebee on sweet pea flower

Less Food Waste

Growing your own food can create a balanced cycle that reduces food waste. Once you’re experienced in how much food you’ll harvest compared to how much you’ll use, food waste can be reduced mostly to scraps. Even then, these food scraps can be composted and put back into your soil to continue producing fruit and veg.

Soil Health

Commercial vegetable production often uses practices that negatively impact soil health. For example, tillage and digging in fertilizers in large areas can disturb the soil, affecting underground biological activity. Working on your own soil means you can monitor its health and minimise the soil damage that goes into producing your fruits and veggies.

Pesticide Control

Growing your own food gives you complete control over the amount of pesticides that go into producing it. Excessive use of pesticides in food production is a huge driving force of biodiversity loss in Europe. Growing food at home can help to reduce your personal contribution to this.

Field being sprayed with pesticides

Less Plastic Waste

In the UK, the majority of our fresh produce comes wrapped in plastic. This packaging often can’t even be recycled at home. Growing fruit and vegetables at home can hugely reduce your single-use plastic waste. Research conducted at Sheffield University found that 10% of UK households switching to grow their own food would produce around 460,000 tonnes per year – this is 8.7% of UK imports. This percentage could have big implications for the reduction of plastic waste and the other environmental impacts of food imports.

What food can you grow at home in the UK?

There’s a huge range of food that can be grown in your own UK back garden. Here are some examples:

Conclusion

All in all, growing your own food at home can be a very sustainable, eco-friendly practice. Try your hand at creating your own veg garden – click here to browse our whole ‘Grow Your Own’ selection, and don’t forget to check out our other articles about growing your own food to help get you started!

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Updated on May 21, 2024

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