Tips For Being A Little Bit More Eco Friendly (During A Pandemic).
How we reduce our environment impact is hugely different for each and every one of us. We all have varying access to resources, whether that’s time, money or skills. That was true before covid- now it's even more obvious. Even as simple as an allergy can reduce your ability to utilise the zero waste shop experience like others. We know that being eco sometimes has it's set of challenges and I've been very grateful to help you navigate this since 2014. Fast forward to 2020, and covid brings it's own challenges...
Despite the increase in single use plastic use, since March I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people who would like to reduce their waste and or their environmental footprint. I've seen growth in ecoliving research on my website. Perhaps people may have a little extra time on their hands whilst working from home, socialising less and want to explore doing something positive, or feel inspired to look into what they can do from home. I think this is really exciting, I feel empowered by renewed passion for eco living (I especially love seeing the new vegetable patches popping up around my neighbourhood).
But we’re not all in the same position, so it’s really important before we continue, to take the pressure off ourselves. This is my first piece of advice. All we can ask is, for you to do your best. If you do that, the process of trying to become a little bit more eco friendly is really fun. You’ll find things that work for you and others don’t fit your lifestyle, but with no pressure, you won't sweat it and you'll let yourself adjust in your own way. Some of the things I suggest might not suit you, but may sow a seed for a different way for you to approach things.
With this in mind, I’m going to talk you through some ways you may be able to easily and cheaply reduce your environmental impact during covid 19, from waste to emissions and inbetween. As ever, if you want help or support drop us an email or fill in our contact form.
Tips For Being A Little Bit More Eco Friendly (During A Pandemic)
Eat your broccoli stalks. Broccoli stalks are really delicious in stir fries. Simply peel off the tougher outer skin (or leave on if you're making soup), chop up the centre and throw in a stirfry with your other soft veggies. Once you've tried the stalk you won't believe you've thrown it away all this time. It’s not just broccoli stalks either, cauliflower leaves (my favourite part of cauliflower cheese) chard stems and beetroot tops are all deliciously edible and certainly worth saving from the compost... Why is this important? Reducing our food waste reduces our environmental footprint and saves money.
Make your own compost. This is actually one of the greatest tools we have to slow climate breakdown and also gives back in beautiful ways! Because not only does composting reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it gives us nutrient rich soils for our flourishing gardens. It saves us from purchasing potentially environmental degrading compost, such as peat. Also perfect for avoiding plastic wrapped and expensive compost for your lock down vegetable patch. If you don’t have space for composting, you might find a local community composting service that would love your scraps for use in allotments or community projects. Some councils also compost road side. Micro composting ideas also include storing banana skins in water for a few days- the nutrients will leach into the water and be a great fertiliser for your indoor plants! Most libraries have books and advice on composting!
Clear your inbox. I am guilty of this. As I write this I have 1,449 emails unread. However emails- or more specifically the storage of these emails creates a carbon footprint. Reducing our digital footprint is an easy, cheap option that is also a huge mental relief and a great act of self care.
Staycations. Many of us are planning holidays in the UK this year, with overseas holidays impractical with self isolations. So this may be an easy one if you’ve already planned a covid friendly staycation this year, but take due credit still! If you’re enjoying a home based holiday, celebrate the environmental win.
There has never been a better time to buy secondhand. With many using their time at home to clear out closets, there are some great deals to be had! Buying secondhand clothes is a great way to save money, reduce the huge environmental footprint associated with new clothes whilst also shopping from the comfort of home. Ebay, facebook marketplace and depop are great places to start, but Oxfam also has an online shop with second hand clothes too.
Get clued up on your local recycling guidelines. Many of us are producing more waste at the moment, whether it’s due to eating out less, less access to plastic free food or working from home. If this is the case, please do not panic or worry. It is a completely normal aspect of pandemic life, even someone seasoned in reducing plastic is producing more waste at the moment. Whilst we shouldn’t normally rely on recycling systems and we should aim to reduce our recycling when we can, sometimes waste is unavoidable. Your local council will have up to date guidelines for what they can and can’t recycle. Every local authority is different, depending on what facilities they have. Being savvy about what you put in the recycling bin is really key, as being a “hopeful recycler” and simply putting everything in, in the hope it can be recycled can cause contaminate the batch! If something you love to buy comes in non recyclable packaging, drop the brand an email. Most companies are very happy to have feedback from loyal customers and who knows, they might just listen!
Have a go at some plastic free DIY’s if you've got time. Whether it’s homemade citrus vinegar cleaner, DIY deodorant or some beeswax wraps. Many of them work really well, are cheap to make and are fun to make too. There are many recipes online for plastic free DIY’s, most with household ingredients too. Deodorant is an especially good one to try out now, when you're at home more. Not everyone has time to make their own, if thats you, don't feel guilty at all.
Bread is one of the most wasted food items In The UK. Making sourdough has been popular over lockdown for good reason- it's delicious! But you don’t need to be a sourdough champion to reduce your bread waste. Freezing loaves and toasting whilst frozen reduces then risk of bread going mouldy before you can finish the loaf. But if you do have the baking bug, making your own means you can cater the size of the loaf to suit you- and you can also add all sorts of herbs that might also be going to waste in your fridge (or if your lucky- your garden). This of course saves a plastic bag per loaf.
Reusable masks (if you can)
I managed to make some reusable masks of my own during lock down, from fabric scraps and spare elastic. There are also some great independent mask makers that means reusable masks are accessible for many of us. I thoroughly recommend checking with your local government for guidance on fabric/ layers suitable if you’re buying or making your own. But if like many, you are high risk and don’t feel comfortable wearing a fabric mask when you leave the house and would rather use a medical mask, please don’t worry. Stay safe. There are new options coming out (including medical masks with recycled content) but just make sure you dispose of your mask correctly and cut the loops when you’re finished.
Have fun and enjoy nature! The outdoors has many benefits, including for our mental health. I am a big believer that loving the outdoors fosters a loving relationship between us and nature. The Wildlife Trusts have some fantastic guides on species you might find near you, head out and see how many species you can try and ID- you'll be surprised how many live near you!
Support small. If you're buying more online at the moment, if you can, buy from small business. It's tempting to head to the big shops to buy your essentials but it's true, when you order from a small business a person does a happy dance. Supporting small business helps put dinners on the table for families.
I really hope these little tips inspire you to have a go at being a little bit more eco during covid. You may already do all of these things, if so, be proud!