While the primary concern during the pandemic is staying safe and healthy, there are ways we can also live more sustainably.
There are a variety of ways you might be “quarantining” – whether that’s working entirely from home, limiting all trips outside the home to groceries and necessities, or avoiding all interaction to protect the immunocompromised.
You may have started to realize little day-to-day things you can do that are more environmentally-friendly, from only using your car for groceries to transitioning to more eco-friendly products as necessities become scarce and need replenishing.
Here are just a few tips and tricks to living sustainably during this major transition in all of our lives.
As cleaning products became scarce, many people began looking for alternatives to the grocery and convenience store staples. Some switches may be:
- Laundry Detergent
- Switch to biodegradable products, these also tend to be more gentle for sensitive skin!
- Dish Soap
- Using biodegradable products or even concentrated powder are friendlier options. With concentrated powders or liquids, you’re able to limit the wasteful packaging since you’re adding the water yourself instead of paying for it.
- Hand Soap
- We’ve switched to biodegradable and refillable hand soaps, which cuts down on the wasteful packaging! It’s also much more gentle for sensitive skin, in our experience.
- Dryer Sheets
- We’ve switched to wool dryer balls and are never looking back! With the wool dryer balls, our clothes dry much faster, have less pet hair (which is important when you’ve got two golden retrievers), and we no longer have dryer sheet waste after every wash!
- Cleaning Spray
- We’ve started buying concentrated cleaning supplies. You buy either liquid or solid/powder cleaner and add water yourself. We use glass spray bottles and save more money than we would with typical cleaning products since they’re mostly water!
- Toilet Paper
- In the US, the pandemic pushed more Americans to switching to bidets! Bidets mean no toilet paper panics as supplies dwindle and much less paper waste!
- Paper Towel
- Bamboo and recycled paper towels are becoming more popular! We’ve switched to using rags when possible, which we can run through the washer and reuse rather than throwing away paper towel .
- Using eco-friendly diapers or even reusable diapers are better on the environment for parents. Disposable diapers have an environmental impact because of the amount of waste they create. With reusable diapers, parents save money and are limiting the amount of waste they contribute.
- Food Storage
- Now that we aren’t really traveling with our food, we can start to switch to nice, sturdy storage containers. We love our glass containers because they have cool designs that also help us color coordinate our weekly meal prep! Of course, keep using the products you already have but as they begin to break down, start transitioning.
One way I’ve limited water use is being more mindful about shower lengths and laundry loads. I’ve also adapted my hand washing to save more water – I run my hands under the water to get them wet, shut the water off, lather up my hands for 20 seconds, then turn the water back on to rinse them off.
Repair >>> Replace
Now that we’re not able to easily run out to the store and buy new products, we have more time to consider whether we can save something instead of disposing of it. The best example is clothing. If you notice a rip in clothes, try to mend it. If you aren’t able to mend, you may be able to repurpose it – whether cutting it up to make a crop top or shorts or using the fabric to create a reusable face mask.
Meet Meatless Mondays
A major way to cut your environmental impact is by switching out meat, even just a few times a week. The resources it takes to produce meat are tremendous. Meat and dairy are leading to wildlife extinction, produce 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, and significant water use and pollution.
As more people are cooking at home, it’s an easier switch to start introducing new meals and starting to substitute out meat.
Now that we have more time at home and many restaurants are closed, we’re starting to cook almost entirely at home instead of relying on take-out, pre-prepared foods, or packaged snacks. We’ve been able to cut down on all the wasteful packaging and also have more control over portions, so we aren’t wasting food anymore!
Start a Garden
With more time at home, now is a great time to start up a garden. Gardens help provide and support our pollinators, can help with stress, and can even help with food production.