I bet you are feeling pretty crowded by now, whether it’s from the people in your house or by the bottles of hand sanitizer that have been piling up. Living sustainably has been tricky during the coronavirus pandemic, but there are some things that you can do to try and stay as eco-friendly as possible — apart from the basic “wear a reusable mask instead of a disposable one.”
One example of waste are traditional cleaning wipes. Not only are you producing plastic waste from the container, the wipes themselves are made out of plastic. There are many other eco-friendly avenues you can use instead. Reusable cloth wipes and cleaning with a multi-purpose cleaner will do the trick. Or even better, just repurpose an old shirt for the job.
Hand soap, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are things that are bought repeatedly and that you are running out of quickly at this time. Instead of getting small plastic bottles of each, search for them in bulk. You can buy a massive gallon of trusty Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap and use it as a body wash, hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, mopping liquid — the list goes on and on.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can support sustainable companies like Blueland or Cleancult. They offer home cleaning starter kits which come in reusable containers. The refills arrive at your house in recyclable paper packaging. Blueland sends your bottles empty with the cleaning tablets on the side. It does this to reduce its carbon footprint since it is excluding the shipment of water around the world.
Cleancult has carbon neutral shipping because of its partnership with carbonfund.org, where it tracks its footprint and then invests in carbon reduction projects. These programs are investments. You pay an initial charge for the kit, but you will quickly find how economic it is to only have to purchase the refills afterwards. The shipping cost that comes with transporting water is also absolved with the powdered cleaners.
Another big necessity that people (used to) overlook is toilet paper. Crazy, I know, but there are more sustainable options for this. Recycled-paper toilet paper is available, but there are also various bamboo brands that you can try out, including Pure Planet Club, No.2, Tushy and Who Gives A Crap, to name a few.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can always try a bidet. You end up saving a lot less water this way too when you consider all that goes into producing one roll of toilet paper. The bidet uses only one-eighth of a gallon of water, and it takes about 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper. By making this switch, not only are you saving a lot of money in the long run, but you will also be saving a lot of trees. Tushy brand sells a bidet attachment for around $90 if you want a starter-friendly option.
Now let’s talk about food: meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Make big batches to eat throughout the week instead of constantly ordering takeout. This will keep your wallet happy, and you won’t have to deal with all of the unnecessary single-use utensils and containers that come along with the delivery. You can freeze your perishable foods to make them last longer and stock up (a reasonable amount) on the non-perishable foods like beans and grains.
It is a hurdle going shopping, especially since we cannot bring our reusable containers to the store, but we have to stay safe and precautious. A great option would be to use a service like Misfits Market or Imperfect Foods that deliver to your doorstep. These companies save the produce that would normally be thrown away by stores because they are misshapen or blemished. They sell this food at a cheaper price — Misfits Market sells its organic fruits and veggies for up to 40% less than in-store would — and they are leaders in reducing food waste.
“(Misfits Market is) a great way to get fresh produce without having to leave my apartment,” said Adriana Olvera, a sophomore majoring in business and hospitality. “I also like that they send different types of vegetables so I can be creative with my cooking.”
Most importantly, remember that health is your priority. If you need to use plastic and buy more things than you usually do, that is okay. You must do what makes you feel safe and comfortable. This is a serious and stressful time. These are just tips that you can use to make you feel better and some products that, at the very least, will give you something to peruse online.