(ENG only) Facing a pandemic and being put on lockdown may let some of our sustainable habits fall out of line. And this is aboslutely okay. Not because suddenly it’s not important to care about sustainable practices that are gentle to the Planet and the consequences of our actions towards Mother Earth but because, let’s be real, this situation is pretty different compared to what we are used to in our daily lives. Keeping in mind that it is important to follow current local regulations to ensure everyone’s health and wellbeing, there is still plenty we can do to live sustainably during lockdowns and quarantines.
First of all, there is a very interesting blog post by Besma from Curiously Conscious about the topic of sustainability during a pandemic and I invite you all to give it a read. Besma points out how wrong and unethical it is to use coronavirus to promote environmentalism when linking it to overpopulation or the reduction of emissions (and she quotes Mikaela Loach: “Overpopulation is not the cause of the climate crisis. Capitalism is. Wealth inequality is.”). And I couldn’t agree more. Climate change is the result of an enormous amount of practices lead primarily by profits and if we take a look at what happened over the course of the past 30-40 years, it’s pretty clear how much massive industrialization and throwaway culture have contributed to climate change.
That being said, is it possible to be eco friendly during this pandemic? Sure. I always invite and encourage to focus on the things we have control over, big or small they may be.
Here’s how you can be more eco-friendly during this pandemic:
1- Choose social justice and offer help
As Besma also points out in her blog post, right now sustainability = social justice. Don’t discriminate, be supportive in any way you can, offer help if you can to sustain someone in need, make a small donation to local organizations and fund raisers, share extras (food or household items) if you have them, ask to family members/neighbors/elderly/people who might be at high risk around you if they need anything. Be supportive of the local community in any way possible to help flatten the curve and protect especially those who are marginalized.
2- Don’t hoard and don’t overbuy
I understand that the situation might be hectic and lead to anxiety, but overbuying groceries and household essentials is not only pointless but also very much unethical and unsustainable. Like I mentioned above, making sure that we help each other and we are fair towards each other is the best thing we can do right now. In the spirit of prioritizing everyone’s wellbeing and ensure household essentials for everyone, let’s shop as we normally would, without hoarding too much of the same product and leaving stuff for others too.
Also, try not to compensate the boredom or lack of activities with impulse online shopping: there are plenty of things that you can do to keep yourself busy during these days of quarantine / lockdown instead of impulse buying with a click.
Tip: consider purchasing toilet paper from plastic free companies like “Who gives a crap” or “Smooth panda” (which I briefly talked about in my Ultimate Guide to a Zero Waste Bathroom) or investing into a bidet toilet attachment to reduce your time spent at the store searching for toilet paper and leaving it to those in need.
3- Support small and local businesses
Local and small businesses need us more than ever! Support them in any way you can: if they have an online store, you’re looking for something and you can afford to buy from them, make a purchase from one of these small or local shops instead of buying from big corporations; if you don’t need anything right now, you can purchase a gift card that you will be able to redeem in the future; support these businesses on social media by liking, commenting and sharing their posts so they will have more social media exposure.
4- When washing your hands, close the tap!
Resources are precious and water is life. Now that we are required to wash our hands very often to prevent bacteria from spreading, keep the faucet turned off when soaping your hands.
5- When decluttering, don’t throw away things!
The other day I came across an Instagram post by Fridays for Future San Marino: various household supplies abandoned on the street by the trash can despite being in perfect conditions. I know that, inspired by spring cleaning and in the attempt of keeping themselves busy, many people are decluttering, tidying up and reorganizing their households at the moment. But throwing away things that are still in good shape is a huge waste, now more than ever. If you’re decluttering and purging, check with local non profit organizations if they’re currently on the hunt for supplies and donations. Otherwise keep those things with you: you had them for months, years even, I’m sure you can be patient and wait for the pandemic to be over to find these items a new home.
6- Choose to reuse as much as possible / as much as allowed
Try to focus on those small habits that involve reusables, when possible. Reusable water bottle, reusable produce bags, reusable menstrual products, handkerchiefs, plastic free toiletries, reusable gloves, you name it. Just make sure to put extra care in keeping things clean and sanitized. You can also repurpose jars or containers, paper boxes or packagings (if you order something and get it delivered to your home) and try to use and reuse things as much as possible.
7- Natural cleaning
Using natural, low impact ways to keep our home nice and clean is very easy. Old t-shirts or fabric scraps can become cleaning rugs that you can rewash and reuse. And few simple ingredients can make an excellent, non toxic all purpose cleaner.
8- Make your own
Bread from scratch, healthy drinks and smoothies, delicious cakes, veggie broth (that you can easily make out of veggie peels and scraps), sewing projects, various DIY projects, cookies, quiches, homemade games for the kids, DIY masks and hand sanitizer… there are plenty of things you can make yourself at home using what is currently available to you. If you look on social media, many out there are currently posting and sharing their homemade products. I always think that making your own products is a wonderful way to be conscious and responsible and for many also a great way to spend time and keep their minds busy at the moment. Personally, I am privileged enough to be able to work from home and I have the chance to make many things myself these days. For me making my own things at home as much as possible is also a way to contribute to social justice and help the local community (those who are forced to show up for work despite the pandemic don’t have this luck and privilege and they need to rely on shopping for essentials for the lack of time and energy).
I’d like to know if there’s anything from the list I mentioned above that you are able to do these days to be more eco friendly during this pandemic. And of course, feel free to comment and share anything I didn’t mention! 🙂
Stay safe and take care! I’ll talk to you soon