8 Ways to Help the Environment While you are Home for Social Distancing

by - Friday, March 20, 2020

Are you stuck at home for social distancing? Getting cabin fever while you avoid spreading COVID-19? You can do a lot of good for the environment right from your home!

A lot has been made about the connection between Corona Virus and Climate Crisis. Much of this questions why the reporting is so much more urgent for the virus that climate crisis, despite the fact that the destruction of our climate is a huge threat to everyone. Some note that corona virus is actually helping the environment, giving it time to heal. And some articles have started to see how the wastefulness in the US, especially in the bathroom, is starting to clog sewers and create environmental problems.

So, this big shift in our culture has had major effects on the economy, but it is also giving us a bunch of information about how our actions as a culture effect the environment around us, good and bad.

These days of quarantine are also a pretty rare stop in our routines and busy-ness. If you are one of the lucky ones who isn't trying to desperately figure out how you are going to pay your rent and eat, then you weirdly have some time on your hands. Why not use that time to make some changes and finish some projects that can help the planet?

Every climate crisis that is coming could be just as brutal to the humans on this planet, and our most vulnerable people will suffer the most. If you are feeling helpless, here are some ways to take advantage of this strange moment and help those who need it well into the future. No one can do everything on this list, but most of us can do something. Let's help our neighbors now and help our planet for the future.

Let's get to it...

1. Pat Yourself on the Back... If you are Home, You are Helping 

Studies are making one thing clear- spending way more time at home and way less time commuting is excellent for the planet. NASA Satellite images of China and Italy show that as countries (and the factories in them) shut down, air quality improves. In fact, the lockdown in China has probably saved more lives from air pollution than Corona Virus, which is pretty crazy when you think about it.

In fact, some environmentalists are crediting Corona Virus with actually giving the Earth time to heal from the many ways corporations and consumers hurt it everyday. It's actually an extreme version of my theory that what is good for us is good for the Earth- our social distancing hopefully helps the vulnerable among us. Lucky for us, it helps our poor planet heal as well.

So if you are protecting your neighbors and staying home as much as you can, then you are helping the Earth too. Good job!

2. Cancel that Junk Mail

This is one of those tasks that can live on your to do lists for ages. You have time now to do the kinds of things you always mean to do. Do this one. Is it a pain? Yes, but 100 billion pounds of junkmail delivered every year. If every person who is staying home more did this, we could dramatically shrink that number, save trees (more for toilet paper), and just get less terrible mail.

Want a good resource for how to do this? Eco-cycle has a simple step by step for getting off the lists for junkmail.

If you only do one thing over this time to help the planet, this is a good one.

3. Get Outside

We can't go to many of our favorite spaces- restaurants, theaters, museums, or even church, but the message we keep hearing is that it is ok to go outside. You can maintain social distance and enjoy the fresh air. We are planning to be outside for at least two hours every day to stay sane.

The bonus of doing this (beyond taking care of your mental health) is that the more time we spend in nature, the more likely we are to protect it. We protect the things we love, so get out there and fall in love with nature again.

Have kids at home with you? What a perfect time to set a new normal for them! Check out this list for ideas on activities to fall in love with nature with them.

4. Switch to Bulk (and Eco-Friendly) Toilet Paper

From what I can tell, Corona Virus has absolutely no direct control over bathroom habits, yet everyone lost their minds for toilet paper.

How are you all living on the edge of running out of toilet paper all of the time? Better options are out there, and now is the perfect time to shift your attitudes about basics like these.

First, consider getting a bidet or bidet attachment. When people switch, they cannot stop singing the bidet attachment's praises. It's cleaner, saves tons of trees and paper, and is a much easier sell than the family cloth (though that can be a good option too.

If you aren't ready to break up with toilet paper, even if it has done you wrong this last week, you can still completely switch up your toilet paper routine. Consider buying bamboo or recycled options from Who Gives a Crap or even Seventh Generation on Amazon. We buy in major bulk (once or twice a year) to save money, avoid any plastic packaging, and no trees come down so we can wipe our butts. Even better, when people lost their minds over toilet paper, we knew we had at least 4 months supply already in our basement. Bulk buying RECYCLED paper products is a game changer for how you run your house and how you effect the planet.

If you want to research this more, check out this post for more info.

5. Help out your Neighbors

The most uplifting thing I have seen in the last week is that even as the system around us fails, we are finding ways to take care of each other. Our neighborhood in Seattle is rallying around each other, doing everything from making a shamrock hunt for kids to walking a neighbor's dog for her. People are sharing food, advice, and puzzles (just give them 24 hours after drop off).

In short, I can't believe how being physically divided has brought people together. Online spaces from zoom to facebook allow people to check in and take care of each other even when we can't be near one another.

The stores may be closed, but online neighborhood groups and Buy Nothing groups are still popping. My Buy Nothing group is my favorite space on the internet- overflowing with kindness on regular days and blowing me away every day of this crisis. They allow people to offer gifts when they have more than they need, and to ask for things when they don't. If you aren't in your Buy Nothing group yet, now is a great time to join. Does your neighborhood not have one? This is the perfect time to start one!  Check out their website to learn more.

6. Practice New Recipes (Without Meat)

I love to see how people are using their time in quarantine to learn and make new things. Who knew so many of us were dying to bake bread more often?

While you have time to experiment in the kitchen, then it is time to embrace more vegetarian recipes. Trying some new things and finding meat-free recipes you love is a huge win for you (life gets boring when you aren't learning new things), but it is also a huge win for the planet. Animal agriculture is a huge source of CO2, pollution, and resource waste. The single best thing we can all do for the planet is to dramatically decrease (or cut) meat from our diets. Especially red meat.

Also, I don't know if you have noticed, but practically empty grocery stores often still have vegan options left! Be brave and finally try that Beyond Burger.

So if eating more plant-based meals has been on your list of things you wanted to try "someday," now is a good time. If you eat meat-free for the next week of social distancing, you can save thousands of gallons of water and multiple animals.

If you have been staying home for the benefit of others and want to make the most of this time, check out our Meatless Monday page and start broadening your recipes! If you have stocked up on food and don't have much access to more, you can even read some cool vegan recipes that use standard canned goods. If you have some meat already in the fridge, check out our Half-Meat Meals post for ideas on how to make what you have last more meals.

7. Use Single Use Plastic When It's Necessary 

(Skip it the Rest of the Time)

The big downside of CoViD-19 is that we will likely see a returning surge of single use plastics. The drinking straw as a regular part of life actually took off last time as a response to disease as well. Sometimes, single use plastic can be a Godsend to keep things sterile and safer; sometimes, it is just perception.

So, if you need gloves, please use them!

That said, single use isn't always necessary and if you are quarantined, you may not need it all the time. Still use your water bottle at home. Try to find spaces to reuse and keep using washing things over tossing them.

And once this is over (whatever that looks like), it will be time to push back again that single use plastic won't prevent another outbreak like this. So please don't bring back the straw.

8. Embrace Less Consumerism

Ok, you have bought the weeks and weeks of groceries you need. Most stores are closed. Even Amazon has limited their products and shipping to "essentials." So stop shopping. Seriously. Just take a break.

We don't realize it, but consumerism totally permeates our lives and our thinking. It is a comfort to us (why do you think people do such weird shopping in panicked moments like this?), but it doesn't ever actually make us happy or even calm our nerves for long. Because there is always something out there we could be buying. This cultural norm is one of the most destructive of our times- we are massive overconsumers, so we are always creating tons of waste, adding plastic to landfills, and throwing away fossil fuels.

So let's embrace the break! When we are thinking of shopping to kill the time, pick something else instead. As life slows down, we can kind of see how little we need, and maybe this simplicity can carry us forward so the best things about this crazy time continues.

What am I missing here? What else can we do to make this time a healing period for our planet or a shift in our learning to continue forward with?

8 Ways to Help the Environment While you are Home for Social Distancing   8 Ways to Help the Environment While you are Home for Social Distancing

You May Also Like



Get Our Latest Posts Via Email - It's Free

Enter your email address: