Recently World Centric’s Zero Waste Manager Lauren Olson was featured on regional U.S. TV news broadcasts with tips on keeping sustainability front and center during the pandemic.
There is no better time during our great “pause” to continue good habits and develop some new commitments to do better for the environment, especially during Earth month and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020.
Getting back to the earth through composting and gardening can be especially therapeutic during uncertain times like these. With fewer cars on the road, take the opportunity to explore your local bicycle lanes to do your essential errands (with attention to practicing social distancing). Although COVID-19 has made some sustainable behaviors like reusable bags difficult, due to some cities and states rolling back plastic bag bans in response to fears of transmission, keep your bag habit in mind for when things get back to normal.
Here are some of Lauren’s tips for keeping up your sustainability momentum during the pandemic:
Plastic Water Bottles
Keep saying no to single-use plastic. Bottled water is unnecessary if you are at home and your tap water is safe to drink. If you don’t like the taste, try using a water filter. Use your own reusable water bottle to cut down on dishes.
Reusable Rags and Towels
Replace your paper towel habit for cleanups and spills with a more sustainable alternative which also cuts down on the items you need to buy from the store.
Cutting down trips in the car is a great idea, especially right now to limit non-essential travel and exposures. Consider walking or biking to stores that are close. “Trip chaining” is also a fun challenge to set up all of your errands on an efficient route in the car.
Now that you have time on your hands, check the websites of companies that make products you use and advocate for more sustainable packaging.
Check with your local recycle and yard waste service and brush up on their rules for recycling and composting. Since we are all cooking and eating more at home, find ways to set up your recycling and compost that makes the most sense for your kitchen to make it easy. If commercial composting isn’t available, consider writing to a local representative like a city council member.
Now is the time to start planning your garden. If you have an existing garden, you can clean it up, aerate the soil, and add compost. Or if you're just starting out, start by killing off grass and weeds by laying down cardboard. If you feel comfortable going to the store, purchase vegetable starts and seeds. Or, if you’re up for a home science experiment, try using the stumps of lettuce heads, seeds from bell peppers or bottoms of green onions to sprout some starts.
It’s as easy as three parts brown (carbon-rich leaves, grass, and branches) and one part nitrogen (produce scraps). If you want a composting device like a tumbler or build your own you may need to head to the store. Learn more about composting at home on our blog.
Now is the time to try road cycling with fewer cars on the road for a safer bicycling experience to do your essential errands. Bicycle repair shops might be considered an essential business in your area. Ride with people in your household to get your cardio for the day and get out of the house. If you have questions about safe cycling during the pandemic Bicycling Magazine has a good FAQ page here.
Now that you’re home more, consider making some energy-efficient changes around your house. Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs where possible and install a programmable thermostat. Use the sun to dry your clothes instead of the dryer. Check your local energy provider’s website for more tips and to access a home energy checkup to check for more ways to save.
Only order essential items online and be sure to select ground shipping where possible. Most states have a stay at home order now so there are fewer warehouse workers to pack and ship items.