Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown all our “normal” behavior into a loop, it’s also derailed the systems we keep in place to make our lives more sustainable.
Single-use plastics have become essential for maintaining public safety. Restaurants are banning the filling of reusable cups, public health officials are suggesting you use new latex gloves every time you pump gas, and plastic containers filled with hand sanitizer, wipes, and disinfectants are in high demand everywhere.
All at risk to end up in the trash can after use.
We’ve collected a few tips you can add into your new routine to maintain a sustainable lifestyle… even in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s important to highlight that safety always comes first. But, right now, there are still ways to be sustainable, safely.
1. The grocery-store-hack
Many states instituted a ban on reusable shopping bags during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some bans still exist.
I remember the first time I went grocery shopping in quarantine, already bummed to see an empty paper towel shelf. Imagine my mood when I realized I’d have to use a dozen plastic bags to get my groceries home!
But alas, (as mom always said) you can simply: put your groceries back in the cart after paying, roll them to your car, and bag them in reusable bags from your car.
Some other grocery store tips: avoid buying items with styrofoam or plastic packaging, limit your meat consumption, and shop as locally as you can!
2. Protect the earth with your PPE
As you adjust to keeping a mask, hand sanitizer, and gloves with you when you go out in public, make sure to minimize your environmental impact while you’re at it.
Some quick PPE advice:
- Reusable cloth masks are safe, come in fun patterns, and prevent you from throwing away a non-fabric mask.
- If you’re finding yourself rapidly going through hand sanitizer bottles, buy in bulk and refill your smaller pocket-sized bottle when needed.
- Need to use gloves while shopping or getting gas? Use compostable gloves instead of latex.
- At the end of the day, always be sure to dispose of PPE in the proper trash or compost bin, instead of on the ground.
3. Do some sustainability home-work
Finding yourself with lots of time at home?
Try eliminating as many single-use plastics from within your house as you can. Walk from room to room, collecting single-use plastics, and begin to brainstorm sustainable replacements you could make.
Experiment with making your own shampoo and conditioner in reusable glass jars, use a bar of soap instead of a bottle. Ditch cling wrap and plastic bags for Tupperware and Bee’s Wrap®, and cut up old t-shirts to use as rags instead of paper towels.
4. Consider making some changes permanent
Times of transition can be great opportunities to establish new routines.
As we’ve seen through the extreme decrease in air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions taking place since the pandemic began, some forced safety changes have also benefited the environment. In this time of shifting norms, consider any earth-friendly habits you’ve picked up that you could implement in your post-COVID life.
Do you really need to travel by plane as often? Could you continue working from home, eliminating the emissions released from your daily commute? Could you try a vegetarian diet for the first time, as you now have more time to try new recipes? Could you set up a home compost-system?
Use this crazy time as an opportunity to make your life greener, even when you have the freedom to live as you please.
5. Focus on what you can control
In unprecedented times, it pays to focus on what you can actually control.
There are some new and non-reusable additions to our lives that are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as paper menus at restaurants or a ban on reusable cups at coffee shops.
Don’t get too overwhelmed in all the chaos of the pandemic to forget ways you can continue to make your lifestyle more sustainable.