So, there’s a lot going on at the moment. With the coronavirus pandemic making its way around the globe, the world has been impacted in many ways—but they don’t have to be all bad. In fact, not only are there some positives coming out of this crisis, but this could also be a perfect time for people to either develop new eco-friendly habits or stick to the ones they’ve developed over the years.
Yes, you read that right—there are some positives coming out of this crisis. We may be socially disconnected, and we may be feeling totally crazy after just binge-watching Tiger King for 10+ hours, but this strange period of our lives is actually doing a lot of good, too.
There’s no downplaying how this situation is tragic for many people around the world, but it’s important to recognize all the silver linings, too. We’re social creatures, meaning that crisis is a perfect time for coming together to help out—and people are doing just that.
Celebrities have been donating millions of dollars, people are applauding and singing from their balconies in Italy and Spain, and cafes and restaurants are providing free meals to people in need. Just the other day, my cousin surprised her sister with a drive-by happy birthday parade! There’s no shortage of compassion and creativity right now!
Mother Earth is already benefiting from coronavirus also—as air pollution and CO2 levels have been falling over the past few months. And there are many ways you can give back to this planet, too!
Wondering how to remain eco-friendly during a global crisis? Here are 10 tips to help you out.
1. Read a Book
What better time to get through that list of books you’ve always wanted to read?! If you’re looking for some digestible environmentally friendly inspo, there are literally thousands of books that could help you out.
If eco-friendly is a new topic for you, check out Eaarth by Bill McKibben. He’s one of the green movement’s most outspoken advocates and this book is nothing short of life changing.
If you know what this planet is going through and are ready for a solution, read Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. Author Paul Hawken presents 100 solutions for fixing the climate problems caused by humans (and many solutions are things you can try at home).
In need of a wake-up call? Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything could be the book for you.
Want to use this time to re-evaluate your relationship with food? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is a must-read. There’s no better book to inspire you to get your hands dirty and try your hand at growing your own food.
2. Plant a Garden
There’s no better time than the present to try to become a green thumb. Whether you live in a small apartment, have a large backyard, or live on a lot of land—planting something might be easier than you think.
Even if you’re in a city, you can still definitely add a little green to your life. Herbs and lettuce can be grown indoors in windowsills and if you have a small balcony you may be able to grow strawberries, tomatoes, and even peppers! If you’re stuck inside, why not surround yourself with indoor plants? There’s nothing better to brighten a gloomy day and indoor plants are better for your health, too!
3. Cook Eco-Friendly Meals
Since most of us are spending more time at home, this means that we can be spending more time in the kitchen! Now is the time for experimenting with those culinary creations you’ve always wanted to try—baking bread, making kombucha, or taking the time to make your own granola bars, almond milk, or nut butter.
You might end up discovering that many of these things actually aren’t too difficult to create at home, meaning that all of the store-bought packaging is totally unnecessary!
Not only that, but if you’ve ever wanted to try a sustainable plant-based diet, now is the time to experiment! Many of our pantry staple proteins (beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.) are great substitutes for meat—and have a much lower carbon footprint, too.
4. Start Composting
Have you always thought about composting but just haven’t gotten around to it? Well, now’s your chance. You can order a compost bin online (many municipalities offer deals to residents) or just start a pile in your yard. Live in an apartment? No worries, you can still recycle your food waste with an indoor composting system!
5. Go for a Walk
What’s one of the best ways to be eco-friendly? Appreciate the beautiful planet that we live on! Not only is walking the most carbon-friendly way of travel, but it’s also great for your physical and mental health! So, go ahead, tie those laces and get outside and fall in love with nature—just be sure you stay six feet away from other people.
6. Opt for Zero Waste Food
Staying healthy means eating more nutrient-packed fruits and veggies and this is a good time to evaluate exactly how much food you waste each week. Since you’re home more, take note of what you’re throwing away and why. Also, challenge yourself to eat all of those fruits and veggies in your refrigerator. Get creative with your meals and try to use the whole fruit and vegetable (i.e. potato skins, broccoli stalks, and beet greens).
Also, since we should all be going to the grocery store less, it’s a good time to stock up on bulk nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes. Buying in bulk means you’ll be using less packaging, and in some cases, can even use your own containers.
7. Experiment with Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Now is the perfect time to get creative around the house! Most cleaning products are notoriously bad for our health and the planet and you can actually replace many of them with products you make at home.
The easiest and most effective DIY cleaner? Baking soda and vinegar—it works like a dream to get out tough stains and scum. You can also try making a deliciously-scented all-purpose cleaner with white vinegar, water, citrus rinds, and rosemary sprigs.
8. Use This Time to Switch Your Shampoo
Most of us have a go-to shampoo that we’ve been using for years. Oftentimes, these shampoos come in awful plastic and are packed with chemicals that are not only terrible for the planet, but also pretty bad for our health, too.
When you use shampoo like this, it actually strips your hair of everything healthy—including a lot of natural oils. When you switch to a natural or eco-friendly shampoo, it takes some time for your hair to get used to it. You may experience some additional oils during the transition as your hair gets used to the changes. And what better time to experience this than when you’re in isolation?
If you’re home a lot more, you’ll be more aware of all the junk you own. Go Marie Kondo on your kitchen and look at all of the useless plastic stuff you have? How can each item be replaced by something more eco-friendly, or done away with all together? Now is a perfect time to declutter.
10. Evaluate Your Wardrobe
After you’re done with your kitchen, head to your wardrobe. What don’t you wear anymore? What did you buy for that special occasion to only have it collect dust in your closet after? Fast fashion sure does produce a lot of cute clothes, but it’s also associated with a massive environmental impact. Think about what you can donate and how you can minimize what you buy. Check out a local thrift store or vintage shop when you go out for your first post-quarantine dinner!
Well, there you have it—how to remain eco-friendly during a global crisis! Not only are these 10 tips things that we should all be practicing more anyway, but now is also the perfect time to do them! Develop good habits now, and you’ll continue to be an eco-warrior even after everything goes back to normal.
Written by Heather S. for Weighstead