These are scary and unpredictable times. The entire world is dealing with our current health crisis and we are all stuck at home. What an amazing, collective effort it is to save people’s lives. As difficult as the social isolation is, staying at home and only doing what is necessary, is the right thing to do. We are in our fourth week of social distancing and I miss people, a lot, but I have also been enjoying the slowness of our current life. In many ways, we are allowed to take a deep breath and take some time to do things we often don’t have time for. I think we, who are healthy and are able to be at home, are very fortunate. So many are struggling with their health and with the danger of getting infected. It is easy to forget that our job of staying at home is a luxury and I am grateful for all the doctors and nurses and essential workers who are taking care of us every day.
Update: I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago and never finished it. I think this is now our 7th week of our stay at home order. I kind of lost count. As much as I enjoyed the slowness at first, this pandemic and the shut down has gotten the best of me and I got completely swept up in work, kids, online schooling and coping with all the changes. It’s been an overwhelming time and I simply couldn’t focus on this blog. I am back and want to continue posting regularly and keeping you all informed on my newest discoveries on simple living and sustainability.
The beauty in the midst of a crisis
I recently watched a video on YouTube showing us how animals are currently behaving all over the world, If you want to watch it, here is the link.
I think this video is a beautiful reminder that our earth has been suffering tremendously and that it is now getting a well deserved break from all the human activity. It isn’t enough, of course, but it’s a start and it’s beautiful to see that simply stepping back from our normal and fast paced life can give the earth some time to recover.
It’s scary to think about what will happen to our economy and the consequences of this extraordinary crisis. There is not much we can do about the outcome right now. We have to get through it day by day while taking care of ourselves and our families. But while we stay at home, we can find ways to live more sustainably that will help us save money and resources.
Living sustainably requires us to become aware of our daily actions and our habits and conveniences that we have been accustomed to by living in one of the richest countries in the world. I think living through a pandemic can be a great opportunity to start some habits towards simplicity and sustainabilitiy.
Here are my ten tips on how to be more sustainable at home during the pandemic and beyond
1. Save things to give them away in the future instead of throwing them in the trash.
I love getting rid of stuff and I love organizing closets. With two growing boys, it is hard to stay minimalist, but I used to often be tempted to go through drawers and closets and just throw away whatever we didn’t need anymore. Bad habit! I have become more careful to think before I throw away. Getting rid of clutter is good, but doing it the right way, is better. Give away things to thrift stores, sell your old things online and if you have to dispose something, research on how to do it properly.
2. Check your fridge daily and eat your left overs before they go bad.
Something I try to do regularly is to clean out my fridge, organize it and wipe down shelfs. So many times, I find some sort of container with left over dinner from weeks ago. Yuck! Waisting food pains me and I am trying to avoid it. Especially during a pandemic, when so many people are loosing their livelihood, appreciating the food we have and trying hard not to let anything go to waste, expresses respect and gratitude and helps to not take anything for granted.
3. Use fresh food first.
How many times did the lettuce go bad before I finally wanted to use it? Meal planning helps a lot to use everything before it goes bad.
4. Take shorter showers
If you are brave (which I am not so much except in the summer) try taking cold showers. You hot water bill and your immune system will thank you. Here is an interesting fact: Taking a cold shower is good for the immune system, because scientific studies have found that taking a cold shower increases white blood cells which are responsible for fighting disease.
5. Use cold water for most laundry loads.
I use cold water for most laundry, except for towels and sheets. I can’t tell the difference and it saves energy.
6. Invest in a drying rack and hang up your laundry inside
Or, if you have some clotheslines outside, use the sun and fresh air to dry your clothes and sheets. They will smell amazing!
7. Be mindful of heat and air conditioner use.
This is another matter of convenience we are so used to. Instead of putting on an extra sweater or enduring the heat a little more, we turn up the heat and/or air conditioner as soon as we feel uncomfortbale. I have done it many times, but I think we are all able to tolerate more than we think. Being mindful of it, is all we need to move towards change.
8. Start collection rainwater.
This is something we are considering for our home. In many countries it has become a norm to collect rainwater and it is a wonderful option to replace a portion of your water needs. I am currently doing research and will be writing an entire post on rainwater collection in the near future.
9. If you haven’t already, start a compost pile.
Composting has become quite common. If you don’t have a compost pile, it is one of the easiest steps to take towards becoming environmentally responsible. Around 30% of waste are food scraps and yard waste. By composting all of that waste, you are not only producing fertilizer for your garden, but are also helping to reduce the amount of methane gas which plays a major role in global warming.
10. Save and reuse packaging materials.
With all the online shopping we are doing, it is harder to keep plastic packaging minimal. Think creatively and try to saveand reuse as much as possibe. Some of it could be used for creative art projects for the kids.
I hope this is helpful for you. If you have any other suggestions, questions or comments, leave them in the comment section. I am always open to hear what other people do and learn something new.