Writing for Wellness: Environmental Wellness on Earth Day

Earth Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, mostly because of its timing in the northeast. I love seeing the world around me wake up from a long winter’s sleep, each day bringing more sunlight and greenery. When I was a child, my mother would plant a sunflower outside of my bedroom, so I could watch it grow from my window. There are so many pictures of me next to the sunflower, comparing our height—no matter how hard I tried, I never was able to outgrow it in a season. Having that routine, along with a well-organized room (one corner for my American Girl Dolls, one for art supplies), contributed to a sense of environmental wellness in my youth, even if I didn’t know it! 

As an adult, environmental wellness has continued to be an important part of my life. I often say that my living and workspace is a reflection of my mind, so I try to keep my physical spaces tidy and organized. I still love plants, and have plants all over my house. I love tending to them and watching them grow. I have a coconut orchid that I’ve owned for 5 years that bloomed for the first time this month! Five years of hard work to figure out the best watering, feeding, and sunning schedule finally paid off. 

Environmental wellness has taken on new importance in this time of social distancing. One of my favorite past times, leisurely wandering through the grocery store and the farmers market to find fresh, seasonal produce has become a carefully planned trip. Each item I need is organized by section of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, bulk, canned, frozen, and grocery) so I can better follow social distancing guidelines and not linger or backtrack if I have forgotten something. I’ve needed to be more resourceful and imaginative, using what I have on hand as a substitute rather than running out to the store. 

I also plan my meals much more intensively than I did before, trying to use up everything in my kitchen to spread out trips to the grocery store. This method has worked well for my husband and me; I am now going to the grocery store on average once every two weeks to restock. The one area where this does not work as well is fresh produce, especially herbs. I use a lot of them and they always seem to go bad quickly; I hate the food waste it seems to generate. A new way that I have gotten around this and a way to bring in a bit more greenery into my house is to regrow the scallions that I have purchased at the grocery store.  

When I cook with scallions, cut off all but a half-inch of the white end with roots attached for use in my recipe. The rooted end gets plunked into a small jar of water that sits on my windowsill to regrow. Every few days, I change out the water, so the bundle stays fresh. It took me about two weeks since to regrow my first batch of scallions, and I now have a small rotating garden of “phoenix” scallions! I’ve read that they can grow in water about two to three times, after that, they would need to be transplanted to soil or given some plant food to keep up their growth.  

Scallions not your thing? This method for regrowth works for romaine lettuce, onions, celery, and beets! Regrowing kitchen scraps is a small thing that may put off my grocery trip for a day or two, but those days over many trips and weeks do add up! Plus, watching those small scallions grow day after day brings me so much happiness! Why not celebrate Earth Day today by looking through your produce to see what can be regrown!