10 Tips on How to be Sustainable While in Quarantine
Updated: May 24, 2020
The current pandemic has completely changed our way of life. A silver lining is of course that fewer cars, industry, and travel means the Earth gets a much needed break from our day-to-day polluting activities. However, it can feel like the increase in takeout food, Amazon Prime deliveries, online streaming, and frequent hand-washing has brought about an increase in unavoidable single-use plastics, household energy and water usage. If you are looking for ways to still be sustainable while in quarantine, here are 10 tips!
1. Order takeout from local, non chain restaurants: When ordering takeout/delivery food from restaurants, try to support local restaurants that are more likely to source their foods locally. This is more sustainable since shorter transport from source to restaurant translates to lower CO2 emissions!
2. Ditch the utensils when ordering takeout: When ordering takeout/delivery food, it is hard to avoid single-use plastic waste and packaging. However, one way you can avoid unnecessary waste is by simply telling the restaurant that you do not need napkins nor utensils! That way you cut back on the amount of single-use plastic from your order :)
3. Shop sustainably and buy secondhand: Most of us may find ourselves online shopping a lot more during this time (just me?). If so, try to shop sustainably by buying second hand or vintage through apps like Depop, Poshmark, or Facebook Marketplace. Also, you can put your spare time to good use by selling your little worn/used items on these sites to make a little money!
4. Buy locally-sourced food: If available or accessible in your area, opt to buy produce and meats from local farms or markets. This is not only more sustainable, but also supports small businesses who need it most during these hard economic times.
5. Switch to using a green search engine: We’re all spending more time on the internet while in quarantine, so we might as well switch to a green search engine provider! Try an eco-friendly search engine like Ecoasia. This company uses the profit made from users’ searches to plant trees. You mean—I can plant trees by surfing the internet? Say less!
6. Reduce food waste: As the fear created by this pandemic continues to rise, many of us have raced to the grocery store to stockpile food. Although a natural reaction, overstocking on food can be unnecessary and lead to a large amount of food waste, which is a leading contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. To avoid such waste, it is important to try and put this food to use and increase its shelf-life as much as possible by doing things such as cooking with leftovers, and freezing fresh vegetables or fruits that are starting to go bad for later use. Further, the way we organize our fridges and pantries can help with this: Put food items that expire sooner in the front to ensure that these items aren’t forgotten before they expire.
7. Try more plant-based recipes: Use this time to master more plant-based recipes! At this point, most of us should be familiar with the idea that eating less meat is a key way to reduce our individual carbon footprints. I’ve been enjoying much of my time by trying new plant-based recipes, some of which I plan on sharing in later blog posts :)
8. Spend less time streaming: With more time spent online, many of us have increased the amount of streaming we do. Collectively, our streaming requires an enormous amount of electricity, which generates a lot of CO2 and associated greenhouse gases. In an attempt to curb these emissions, we can spend less time streaming and instead spend more time reading, exercising and getting outside, cooking, creating art or music, playing with our pets, spending time with those we are quarantined with, etc. When streaming wins out, try to do so with those you're quarantined with vs. having multiple devices streaming simultaneously under one roof.
9. Conserve water: Since we are all washing our hands more frequently during this time, it’s important to still be aware of our personal water usage. This means to keep in mind that we don’t have to keep the faucet running the whole time while washing our hands :) Wet your hands, turn off the water while you lather for 20+ seconds, and then turn the water back on to rinse!
10. Become a more informed, eco-conscious citizen: We can use some of this spare time to become more knowledgeable on environmental topics. FutureLearn is a great online tool I've used that offers a host of environmental courses. Also, it's a great time to become more educated on products ahead of buying them. Read labels and ingredients lists, and understand where your products are being sourced. Are these products truly sustainable? In doing so, we become more eco-conscious consumers. We have the power as a consumer to change the way we buy, and therefore how products are made.
Above all, it is okay to be imperfect at living sustainably during these uncertain times, as taking care of yourself and staying safe is what is most important. How are you supposed to take care of our planet if you don’t take care of yourself first? Being sustainable isn’t entirely in our control during the current pandemic and isn’t always at the forefront of our minds. These 10 tips I shared are just things I have been trying to practice while in quarantine. I hope you found them helpful and maybe even a bit inspiring.
Sending you all love and I hope that you stay healthy, safe, and happy!