2020 was a particularly challenging year for many. The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly forced us to change the way we go about our day-to-day lives. The virus and its economic repercussions have also been a major source of stress for a lot of people, and continues to be as we head into the new year.
Not only has the pandemic brought about new challenges for us as individuals, it’s also provoked unique challenges for the environment. After over a year of living in a very different world than we once knew, there continues to be feelings of stress and uncertainty. The one thing we can do is continue to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle. Thus, here are four tips that can help you go green and reduce waste during these difficult times.
Tip #1: Start Wearing Cloth Face Masks
Wearing reusable, washable cloth face masks rather than disposable ones will help you cut down on waste by lowering the number of masks you throw out. Either make your own cloth face mask at home or contribute to your local economy by buying one or more of them from a nearby shop or neighbor.
Reusable face masks also allow you to let some personality shine through your face covering. Whether you want a stylish mask, a colorful one, or a professional-looking mask you can wear to your next sales meeting, adding a little flavor to your face mask is a fun and simple way to express yourself.
Keep in mind that not all reusable masks are created equal. Like almost every other product out there, some brands are more environmentally conscious than others, like Rothy’s whose products are made from all recycled materials. Try to seek out ethically made masks that are created using recycled materials or fabric scraps that would’ve otherwise gone to waste.
Tip #2: Go Green When Cleaning
If you’ve been working from home or spending the majority of your time in the house for these past few months, as most of us have, then you might find that it’s a struggle to keep your space clean. Perhaps your clothes are strewn across the floor, clutter is everywhere, dishes are piling up in the sink, and it seems like you just have to clean constantly to keep things tidy.
So how can you keep your space cleaner and go green at the same time? Here are a few suggestions:
- Clean using reusable rags. Ditch the wasteful paper towels and get a cloth rag you can wash and reuse. You can even clean out your closet and repurpose some old tee shirts into handy cloth rags.
- Stop unwanted mail. Unwanted junk mail like catalogs, pamphlets, flyers and the like can be a huge waste of paper. In addition to that, they can often end up cluttering your home if you don’t throw them away immediately. So take action and put a stop to unsolicited junk mail by removing yourself from mailing lists.
- Take your bills online. If you get paper bills via mail, then you might also consider transitioning to online bills instead. Along with reducing paper waste, moving your bills online is often easier, more convenient, and more efficient than paying bills through snail mail.
- Purchase eco-friendly cleaning products. Seek out manufacturers that put an emphasis on sustainability. They often sell cleaning products that don’t contain harmful chemicals, and are instead made using natural ingredients. You could also purchase large bottles of cleaning fluid rather than single-use disinfectant wipes, which usually end up in landfills since they can’t be recycled or composted.
Tip #3: Be Smart About Food
If you’re stocking up on food, be careful not to overbuy and let some foods go to waste. Head to the grocery store with a plan in mind. Know the meals that you plan on making for the week ahead of time and write down a shopping list with all of the ingredients you’ll need. Not only can this cut down on food waste, it can also save you money and prevent impulse buying.
If you’re trying to stock up on food so you can stay at home and limit your trips to the grocery store, then focus on buying non-perishable items. Plenty of essential food items, such as rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, come in non-perishable form and can last on your shelves for a long time. Look up non-perishable food recipes to get inspired and start cooking delicious meals at home.
When buying perishable foods, make an effort to buy fresh fruits and vegetables rather than prepackaged or pre-sliced ones wrapped in plastic. This will help to cut down on your ecological footprint — plus fresh fruits and vegetables are usually tastier and less expensive than their pre-packaged counterparts.
After you cook a meal, don’t throw out the leftovers. Save them for your next meal or repurpose the leftovers into an entirely new dish. Have some leftover vegetables? Try making soup. Have some leftover chicken breast? Put it in a sandwich and make it tomorrow’s lunch. There are all kinds of possibilities when it comes to repurposing your leftovers.
Tip #4: Plant a Garden
If you have a yard, try your hand at planting a garden where you grow your own fruits and vegetables. What’s better than having access to free fruits and vegetables just outside your door? Plus, when you plant them yourself, you’ll know exactly how they were grown, meaning you won’t have to worry about whether your vegetables contain any harmful pesticides or other additives.
You may not end up using everything in your garden, but that’s alright. Rather than being tossed in the trash, you can use the food waste as compost to enrich the soil. Or, alternatively, insects and animals will feed on the leftovers and you’ll help give a boost to your local ecosystem.
It takes some thought and effort to be eco-friendly. With all that’s been going on during these past few months, it can be easy for anyone to justify some wasteful habits here and there. But, as you can see, there are a variety of simple things you can do to reduce your ecological footprint, even during times like these. If you have some extra time on your hands these days, try to brainstorm other ways that you can be more environmentally conscious in your day-to-day life — after all, it’s never a bad time to start making more sustainable choices!
About the Guest Author: – Samantha Rupp
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365 Business Tips as well as runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.