15 Ways to Be Environmentally Sustainable While Social Distancing

Making the most of a hard time

I read lately that the COVID-19 crisis has had some positive results on the environment because of people staying in. While this should never downplay the negative effects, and to say that this is a “good thing” would ignore the deaths, the job losses, and the economic crash, it has made me wonder if we could make the most of this time by practicing energy efficiency in our homes.

I’ve always wondered what it would look like if we treated climate change as a national emergency. While I hope it would never look like this, we are at least about to learn whether or not we would be up to the challenge of making drastic life changes for a greater cause.

Many of us–myself included–are staying in, and our cars sit in the driveway instead of emitting carbon while we sit in traffic. This means that our homes are where our biggest emissions are coming from now. With all this time, we can be building better habits that further limit our emissions and waste.

I’ve already written about what I’m doing in Practicing What I Believe 3: Waste. Because I live with three other people in a house that is not my own, I’m limited in what I can do. So here are the simple things that cost me nothing and that don’t bother the rest of my family (okay, sometimes they get onto me for unplugging things).

Here are some other things that we can especially be doing during this crisis:

Shopping

  1. Stop bulk-buying water bottles and other highly packaged foods. There will be enough food and water to go around, so you can keep buying fruits and vegetables 🙂
  2. If you can, buy groceries in one trip for the week.
  3. In general, combine trips. It’s tempting to go out every day, but I’m trying to only go out when I need to and getting everything done at once.
  4. Limit online ordering and buy local if you are able to go out.
  5. Limit shopping in general or use this time to find more sustainable companies, especially local business such as farms that need support right now.
  6. Keep your fridge full but not too full–allow for air circulation so the fridge doesn’t have to work so hard.

Home and Sanitation

  1. When it comes to the choice between paper towels and towels, I opt for a towel, but only in my own home. When I do need a paper towel, or when my family uses them, I compost them. But let’s be honest–a lot of paper towel will be used. Try to ration that. Don’t grab handfulls that you don’t need!
  2. Use eco-friendly cleaners and soaps that are palm-oil free or that use sustainable palm oil (or make your own!)
  3. Buy refillable soap dispensers
  4. Take shorter showers. Do you really need to shave during quarantine? _ JK, but also take advantage of staying in and try one of those hair or face detoxes you’ve been scared to try.
  5. Limit screen time. It will be better for your mental health, too.
  6. Being at home means you’ll be more picky about the thermostat. Make sure you’re not going to low when it’s hot out or too high when its warm to save energy and money. If you’re cold, sit in a sun-facing room with the curtains open. If you’re hot, close the curtains, etc.

Yard

  1. Provide a bird feeder for the birds in your yard (you might even learn what they are)
  2. Grow something, whether its a tree or a flower for your landscaping. If you can, plant a vegetable or pollinator garden!
  3. Let your grass grow a little bit longer before mowing to give bees time to feed off of clover, nettle and other flowering plants. You could even let a patch grow while you mow around it.

Other ideas?

What are other things you can do during this time to make your local world a better place for the environment?

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