Staying Green During Quarantine

What a start to a new decade !

I don’t know about you, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the rollercoaster or brutal slap in the face that is 2020. 

For many of us it feels like we have entered an alternative universe or a dream and are waiting for the reality that we know to exist again. 

January 1st 2020, the start of a new era full of spectacular adventures, technological advancements, big dreams and many successes…..or so we thought. Little did any of us know that the Coronavirus was about to hit the world by a storm and shift societal norms as we know it today. 

Our everyday life has been completely altered and many of us are at home in quarantine until further notice. For some being trapped indoors day in and day out without enjoying your regular outdoor activities may feel like punishment, however, this is a necessary evil for the protection of all us on this planet. So instead of being a Debbie Downer, now is the time to change your perspective and make the most of your time at home with your families. The year 2020 is probably an opportunity for us to slow down, disconnect from our hustle and bustle lifestyle, reconnect with our loved ones, develop healthier and hygienic practices and most importantly, spread love for one another. 

As we are all at home chilling or working, the environment is not a priority for most people. This is completely understandable as your health and the health of your loved ones take priority. However, during this time, it may be easier for us to develop some wasteful habits that can seriously impact our pockets as well as the earth. As such, I would like to provide a few tips that can help you save the environment, your pockets and your mental health as we all conquer quarantine life together.  

Tip 1: Do not panic buy

Many people ran to the groceries and stocked up on many food supplies and toiletries. For some this was necessary but for most of the population this was not needed as many groceries are remaining open during quarantine. What happens when you panic buy is that you stock up on several items that expire or spoil especially fruits and vegetables and this facilitates food wastage. It is important that you buy what you need and do not give into the hype or trend of stock buying. Write down what you need before going grocery shopping to prevent the random purchasing of unwanted items and be sure to walk with your reusable bag in the process. This will definitely save your pockets in the long run. 

Many of us are also panic buying lots of single-use items during this time, such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper, face masks, gloves etc and these ultimately end up in our landfills, or worse, the environment, therefore it is mandatory once again that we only buy what we need and invest in reusable options where possible.

Tip 2: Start a home garden 

Starting a herb or vegetable garden can be a bit overwhelming and time consuming for some but as we are all home this is a great project to start and get the kids involved. Several herbs and vegetables can be grown without using seeds making it convenient for many. There are several videos online that can help you get started and you can use items from around your house to start your garden. You do not need a fancy million dollar pot. An old shoe, a plastic bottle, a peas can, you name it can be used-now is the time to get creative and try your hand at growing your own food. 

Tip 3: Reduce food wastage

Reducing food waste is key during these quarantine times. You can store your food properly to ensure that it doesn’t go bad quickly. The stems and ends of the vegetables can be reused. The peels of onions, carrots, garlic for example can be used to make vegetable stock that is useful for infusing more flavour into rice, quinoa, etc. Your fruits and vegetables can also be stored in the freezer to preserve it and if it gets a bit mushy, they can be great for smoothies or breakfast breads. Finally, any leftover food can be composted. Composting can also seem overwhelming but there are great guides, webinars and videos available to make starting your journey seem like a breeze. 

Tip 4: Reduce hand sanitiser usage. Soap and water are your best options. 

Hand Sanitiser is the new accessory! I have not seen hand sanitiser on the shelves for the past month, they have been completely sold out worldwide. However, I have seen empty bottles on the streets or in refuse bins. What people fail to realise is that the hand sanitiser is stored in plastic bottles and the abundant use of this product means a surge in plastic waste. Although for some hand sanitiser is necessary, according to health professionals the use of soap and water is your best option against COVID 19. So please only use hand sanitiser when mandatory and let’s work together to reduce plastic waste. 

Tip 5: Conserve Water 

Water is at the heart of the fight of Coronavirus as we are all encouraged to wash our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds to fight the spread of the virus. It is easy to get carried away or paranoid and continuously wash our hands. However,  it is important that we only wash our hands when necessary and not give into paranoia. This unsustainable trend encourages water wastage and for many, the water supply is limited. When lathering it is also important to remember to switch off the tap to conserve water during these times. For more water conservation tips to practice while you are at home, see the images below. 

Tip 6: Switch off appliances and electronics 

Now that many of us are home during the day our electricity usage is going to significantly increase. A great way to cut down the electricity bill during this time is to unplug your devices when not in use to prevent phantom electricity from being consumed. Leaving your appliances and electronic devices on standby needlessly uses up a lot of energy. If you are worried about damaging your items you can invest in a surge protector , an extension lead or a gang extension which is a power distribution unit consisting of a number of sockets, then switch that off instead when your items are not in use. Lastly don’t forget to switch off the lights when you exit a room, get in the habit of switching things off and your wallet will thank you in the future. 

Tip 7: Open your windows or pull your curtains 

Being indoors day in and day out can get frustrating and somewhat depressing. Therefore, if you can’t go outside it is important that you open your windows and let some natural light in to not only conserve energy but to also refresh your soul with some vitamin D from the sun. Opening the windows also allows for breeze to cool your home naturally without depending heavily on AC units or fans. These can still be used but only when necessary. Remember the goal is to conserve energy and save your pockets. 

Tip 8: De-clutter your space

Now more than ever is a good time to declutter your home, room by room and cupboard by cupboard. You can sort and manage unwanted stuff by recycling, repurposing or donating the useful ones to people in need or charity. It is important that during this exercise you do not throw away broken items like a crazy person. Instead try to fix it or repurpose it into something magical. A clean uncluttered space is great for peace of mind and the process has been proven to be therapeutic for many. It can also shed a light on unsustainable shopping habits that can be improved in the future.

Tip 9: Upcycle or DIY crafts with old materials

This is a fun activity that you can do with the whole family, especially the kids. Waste materials or unwanted materials can be upcycled into decorative, novelty or functional items for the house. It’s the perfect arts and crafts time that helps the environment in the process.  

Although we are during a pandemic it is important that we do not neglect the earth. At this time the environment is healing, and we can continue to contribute to that by adopting a few sustainable practices at home. I’d like to encourage everyone to stay informed, stay safe, practice social distancing, build your immune system, connect with your family and loved ones, develop new hobbies and most importantly stay home! Your physical and mental health are important! Let’s work together to flatten the curve and end this pandemic.

“A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”

President Franklin Roosevelt

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