Coronavirus and quarantine have been a nightmare for many people all across the world. However, while the world has been cooped up in their homes, the environment has been thriving. Of course, no one would wish this pandemic on the world. It’s been horrible if we’re being honest, and in true Brickellista form, I always try to find a positive spin on a negative situation.
Personally, it’s been beautiful to see some positive things happen in Mother Nature. It makes me wonder, how can we keep the environment happy after quarantine ends? So today I want to talk about how we can keep some of that going once we get back to “normal” life.
But first, I feel like we have to acknowledge how the pandemic has impacted the environment. As you guys know, major effects on the environment are felt when people change their daily habits. There is nothing like a global pandemic, forcing everyone into quarantine, to see how changing daily habits can impact the environment.
How The Global Pandemic Impacted Our Environment
During the pandemic, lower greenhouse gas emissions were observed due to the decline in travel and economic activities in most cities. The drop in emissions is even visible from space, which is crazy to see in this way. Wildlife in public parks are exploring areas they had previously abandoned due to foot traffic and automobiles. Some major cities even saw air pollution greatly improve. There was as much as a 60% decrease in deadly particulate matter in major cities during three weeks of lockdown. Some urban areas also exhibit clearing of water in canals and river banks.
The positive changes in the environment have a great impact today but still, may not last in the long run. Especially if we go back to business as usual. So what can we do to keep the environment happy long after the pandemic ends? Below is a list of ways you can contribute to a healthy, happy environment.
How To Keep The Environment Thriving After Quarantine
Keep The Work From Home Trend Going
Obviously driving plays a huge role in carbon emissions. With everyone working from home during the pandemic, a lot of us employers have realized it’s totally doable. Many companies have given employees the option to work from home until the end of 2020, so it’s a good time to talk to your employer about your options.
Is your company requesting that you head back to work but you want to make working form home more a palatable for your boss?
Here are a few tips to make the process easier:
- Rather than just having a casual conversation, it’s better to design a formal proposal for your boss to take the arrangement seriously.
- Propose a specific schedule of the days and hours you will work remotely, explaining that you will be fully available by phone, email, IM, or whatever, during those hours.
- Your plan is also more likely to be considered if you start off asking for a temporary, part-time schedule, say, two days each week to be revisited after 60-90 days.
So if you’re able to work from home once this is all over, opt to do so. You’ll save money on gas, childcare, commute time, and help keep the environment greener.
Eat Healthy, Sustainable Food
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to limit your consumption of meat and dairy products. You don’t have to cut it out completely, just be mindful of the products you eat. In fact, having just one vegetarian meal a week can save greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving 1160 miles according to the Center of Sustainable Systems.
I personally tried Sakara meal delivery and I love that they are a plant based sustainable company. It’s a splurge, but if you are looking to detox and build new habits this is the company to check out.
Here are some quick tips:
- Always look for brands that operate in a sustainable way.
- Shop local for ingredients – you’d be surprised how many companies locally offer great products.
- Visit farmers markets for fruits and veggies.
- Make your own oat milk it’s THE MOST sustainable milk alternative and it tastes great. If you’re not feeling crafty I personally love Oatly and Chobani has a yummy oatmilk too.
Reduce Energy Consumption At Home
Simply being more mindful of the energy you’re using can make a huge difference. Shut off lights and unplug electronics you’re not using. Use energy-efficient LED lights instead of the traditional incandescent lights. When you buy appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners or dishwashers, look for the energy-efficient brands. They help the environment and save you money as well! Opt for a book over TV. Go for a walk or run in a beautiful outdoor space over using a treadmill or indoor workout machine.
I wrote an article all about reducing energy consumption last year! Check it out Here.
Here are some I items I use at home including a few books about Sustainability:
No one’s asking you to skip your shower or drink less water. Water is good for you, so drink up. But there are little things you can do that make a big difference long term.
Here are my quick tips:
- Turn the faucet off while you’re brushing your teeth. Only keep it on when you’re actually using the water to rinse or wet your toothbrush.
- Water your lawn at night, for less time, so that the grass actually gets the water and it doesn’t dry up or go to waste.
- When you shower have a bucket in there with you – you can use this water later to water plants around the house.
- Sounds gross…. but only flush during number 2. HAHA can’t believe I just typed this. But it definitely conserves water.
- Make sure you have a full load when you wash your clothes – check out my 10 Tips on Energy Efficiency with your laundry
- Same with your dishwasher
Use these ideas to help you set new habits. They are fun to do with kids too!
Avoid Using Single Use Plastics
I slowly have been switching out all of the plastic food storage containers in my home for glass food storage. Not only is glass more durable than plastic, it also doesn’t stain with pasta sauces. Making a conscious effort to switch out your food containers is a great first step.
Keep in mind that plastics take forever to decompose and pose a risk to animals, especially marine life.
Here are some tips to minimize your usage of plastic:
- Carry your own reusable bags for shopping, running errands, etc. Use them rather than getting a new plastic or paper bag each time you shop. And if you have to use a single use bag, opt for paper whenever you can since it is biodegradable. I love my foldable Baggu bag and it fits in every handbag I own.
- Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying cases of plastic water bottles. My favorite is this bottle.
- Eliminate use of garbage bags by reusing your grocery bags instead.
- Bonus: they hold less so you’ll have to take out the trash more often, which means MORE STEPS = MORE CALORIES BURNED!
- Bring your own coffee cup to your local coffee shop. This will help save on the plastic lids AND the paper cup. My favorite is this cup which keeps my coffee super hot for a longer time.
- Donate containers to non profits. Many art teachers and artists use these items
Shop my favs:
Plant a Garden (yes you can on your balcony!)
Planting trees and gardens helps reduce CO2 levels in the air so it goes without saying that creating your little space of green will help reduce emissions tremendously in your personal air space.
A balcony garden can be as complicated or simple as you want. With plant and container choices, you can either make a relatively low maintenance, easy balcony garden or you can do a full-on farm. It depends on your space, light and exposure and the amount of time, energy and/or money you want to spend. If you’re new to gardening then perhaps start with low maintenance plants to test your green thumb.
If you don’t have a balcony our outdoor space you can also grow your own plants and veggies inside.
Here are some companies I’ve been coveting:
These are the items I ordered for my balcony garden!
Repurpose and Upcycle
By repurposing your things, you are giving a new purpose to an item which has used energy and resources to make it. The internet is spilling with crafty ideas from creative people who give new life to something that might be considered as waste. When you do have to throw things away, consider taking them to Goodwill so others can reuse or re-purpose your items instead. There are many local educators and artists that can put your unwanted objects to good use. Please contact local schools and after-school programs directly to inquire.
If you’re looking for fun DIY ideas, see this DIY ideas Pinterest board.
It’s 2020. There are literally endless opportunities to go green and save when it comes to paper usage. Use emails over mail or fax ( seriously? ), opt for paperless billing, use apps for your notes or to-do’s instead of physical paper, evites instead of invitations, washcloths instead of paper towels, etc. The list goes on and on. When you use less paper you lessen your carbon footprint by not one using less paper, but also reducing the fuel consumption of delivery trucks, trains and planes, production of paper products, etc.
Use Washable Face Masks + Gloves
The new normal after this quarantine will most probably require the use of face masks and gloves outside of our homes as protection from the coronavirus. Instead of using low quality disposable masks, you can wear washable and reusable masks to prevent the surge of PPE waste.
Here are some cute options I ordered!
There are tons of websites where you can shop for used items. Honestly, they’re not even actually used most of the time. Sites like The Real Real & Tradesy are great examples.
I personally shop on The Real Real all of the time. I’ve purchased handbags, shoes, work clothes, and home goods all from second hand shops! I love shopping from brands that contribute to the circular economy and I steer away from fast fashion. If I do purchase from Zara or H&M, I will buy pieces from their ecofriendly collections to ensure I am creating a demand for these items.
The best part of supporting companies that are committed to the circular economy is that you get a discount and won’t contribute to more production from companies.
Avoid Disposable Products
Disposable products like plastic plates, cups utensils, paper towels, etc. make up about 20% of the generated wastes in the United States. This amounted to 50M tons of garbage in 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So when you can, use your own reusable plates, cups, and dish towels instead of paper towels.
Well, I would love to know your ideas for protecting the environment. These are just the things I could think of on my own and will try to work into my daily routine. Leave your ideas in the comments below so I can get your help to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Want more ideas?