Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us adopted environmentally friendly behaviours, like using reusable coffee mugs and metal straws. Now that we’re homebound, we can also modify our day-to-day #stayhome existence to make eco-friendly choices.
If you feel like investigating even one small switch, we’ve got several simple ideas for you to choose from. A lot of eco-conscious habits are also more economical in the long run, so you’ll be saving yourself some cash while you look out for the collective health of our planet.
Hang to dry
Hanging laundry to dry instead of using a dryer is easier said than done in some of our smaller urban spaces, but even a condo can house a small foldaway drying rack.
Nicer weather and private outdoor spaces are great opportunities to hang to dry outside (be sure to give clothing and linens a good shake before bringing them in).
WATCH: How to stay eco-friendly while in self-isolation. Story continues below.
Reducing your electricity consumption is better for the environment (it reduces power plant emissions and your carbon footprint), not to mention your utility bill, and your clothes will last longer because of it — win, win, win.
Hot tip: Turkish towels and blankets tend to dry faster than conventional cotton, so stock your bathroom and kitchen with them (if you have the means, and the inclination) and hang to dry by a sunny window.
Freeze your produce for smoothies
Spoiled food not only wastes your money, but it also wastes resources like the efforts put into growing the food and delivering it to you.
As discarded food rots in a landfill it releases methane gas into the air, which has a negative impact on the environment. Portioning some of your weekly produce into a useable amount and freezing the rest means you can enjoy fresh goodies without worrying about the unused portion spoiling.
Not all produce fares well in the freezer, but we’ve had particular success with baby spinach, bananas, berries, and other fruits — all of which are the perfect ingredients for our daily smoothie.
Wash, dry, and prep food first (peel and chop bananas, wash and dry spinach, etc.) and then store in airtight containers, ready to pop in the blender for your next smoothie fix.
Compost your food waste and separate your coffee grinds
Even the most diligent among us are still going to have food waste, but separating our refuse into city-sanctioned bins means compost should end up where it’s supposed to and break down safely.
Keep a ceramic jar with a lid on your counter for coffee grinds, and a bin with a lid under your sink or a bowl or container in your fridge for compostable food scraps.
We’ve found coffee grounds to be efficient at scrubbing pots and pans — simply add a spoonful or two to a reusable cloth and scrub the pot surface before washing!
Use refillable glass containers and buy cleaning products in bulk where possible
Using refillable containers cuts down on unnecessary packaging and is a sustainable way to keep your household running as eco-friendly as possible.
Even now during a pandemic we have found brands delivering refill sizes of detergents and soaps, as well as refills sent out in reusable glass jars. Turn a simple mason jar into a dispenser with the addition of a pump and consider shopping for refills in the future.
As some local farmers markets and businesses are adapting to offer curbside pick-up of weekly groceries, consider ordering your goods in bulk (when it’s safe to do so) or paper packaging and re-store them at home in airtight jars.
Eliminate odours naturally
While we aren’t against freshening the air in your home, we would suggest avoiding some more conventional products that release unhealthy toxins into the air and the environment.
A bowl of the aforementioned coffee grounds in the fridge will work overnight to absorb odours (don’t forget to toss grinds into the compost in the morning), while diffusing essential oils is a non-toxic way to enjoy some aromatherapy. We love some relaxing lavender essential oil to wind down before bed.
Air purifying plants like sansevieria (snake plants) are also beneficial — they release oxygen into the air at night, which makes them the perfect bedside companion.
Buy only what you need
Having a well-stocked pantry or bathroom cabinet makes sense and offers peace of mind, but impulse buying things that go to waste doesn’t benefit you or the environment.
Take stock of your weekly grocery haul and make note of what is getting consumed and what is going to waste and adjust your next grocery list accordingly.
Try organizing your fridge so that immediately perishable items are in plain sight — use clear containers and store things in the same spot each week so you can notice when supplies are running low.
When it comes to cleaning supplies, consider using washable cloths instead of — or as well as — disposable paper towel; upcycle old T-shirts to use as rags for scrubbing bathtubs and sinks. Just remember to sanitize thoroughly before the next use.
Also on HuffPost: