Maintaining Sustainability Efforts While Self Isolating

Magnolia Potter - Contributing Writer

Posted on Wednesday 29th April 2020

Sustainability is a lifestyle. Conditions may change, but the most eco-conscious individuals will still want to make every effort to be sustainable, even while self-isolating due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As the world stays home, the biggest winner is the environment. Pollution is down and animals have begun to freely roam again. Evidence of how humans make an impact on the environment has never been more apparent. 

There’s no time to rest on our laurels, however. There are plenty of activities and habits we can pursue to improve our eco-conscious lifestyle:

Take a Sustainable Home Decor Audit

Your home is your sanctuary. Does it reflect your sustainability choices? Review your home’s decor and determine which of your furnishings follow ethical design principles. Donate any item that doesn’t meet your standards or may affect your home’s air quality. Some items you may want to get rid of during the decluttering process include the following:

  • Decorative candles. Unless they’re made from natural materials such as beeswax or soy wax, you’re burning a petroleum by-product in your home.

  • Home fragrance products. Room sprays, diffusers, and other home fragrance products use chemicals to deliver the scent. Avoid products using artificial fragrances.  If you can’t live without fresh scents, consider using essential oil diffusers.

  • Cleaners. Store-bought cleaners are loaded with toxic chemicals. Replace the commercial cleaners with natural alternatives including solutions of vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or rubbing alcohol to clean, disinfect, and sanitize.

  • Single-use products. Take stock of how much trash you create during this time of sheltering in place. Are you purchasing items that come in unnecessary amounts of packaging? Be more conscious about this the next time you go grocery shopping, and opt for unpackaged or bulk alternatives.

  • Plastic food storage containers and bottles. Many plastic water bottles and food storage containers contain harmful chemicals such as BPA or BPS. These compounds leach into your food, disrupting hormone levels and potentially causing many health problems. Recycle or donate plastic containers and repurpose glass jars to store foods and liquids.

Develop a Plant Habit

You probably have more downtime then you’re used to right now. Indoor and outdoor gardening can be a great outlet. Gardening can be relaxing and quite rewarding, and according to NASA, plants can improve your home’s air quality. Adding plants to your home also adds a peaceful, zen-like vibe to your space. Besides typical houseplants, consider planting and growing herbs and lettuce varieties. They’re easy to grow indoors next to a window and can add flavor and variety to your daily meals. 

If you have a yard or outdoor area, planting a raised vegetable garden can be a rewarding hobby. Kids especially love to care for vegetable gardens. They can spend hours picking at worms, watching for sprouts to grow, and harvesting the vegetables. Their newfound love of gardening may even mean they’ll eat more vegetables — a win-win for everyone.

Repair, Repurpose, or Recycle

Decluttering your home can be a liberating experience. Our hectic lifestyles before the COVID-19 outbreak made it difficult to take the time for even basic tasks such as sewing on a missing button. In no other place in your home is there evidence of the old, hectic lifestyle like closets. Take this time of self-isolation to overhaul yours. 

Examine every single article of clothing and accessory to examine which items you no longer wear and why. If you haven’t worn an item because of a stain or a tear, can you remove the stain or repair the item? Can the article be repurposed into a new item? For example, an old pair of jeans with a tear at the knee can become a pair of denim shorts. 

If the reason you no longer wear an item is because it doesn’t fit, can you alter it? If not, donate the garment so someone in need can make use of it. And don’t forget to pass all your clothes through the sustainability test. Do you have items made of synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester? Opt to keep only natural fibers. They’re better for your skin and the environment.

Reduce Your Home’s Energy Use

There’s no better time than now to take a closer look at your home and how you can create a space with less carbon footprint. You can start with simple changes such as replacing traditional light bulbs with more efficient LED versions. Doing this can reduce your energy consumption and the number of bulbs you’ll need to replace over time. A single LED bulb can last as long as 25,000 hours!

In addition to replacing bulbs, maximize the natural light in your rooms. Use mirrors to reflect the light into darker corners and replace darker curtains with sheers. If your home tends to be warm or stuffy, install ceiling fans to cool your rooms down instead of turning on the air conditioner. Ceiling fans aren’t difficult to install, and you’ll be surprised at how much they can cool down a room.

There’s No Better Time Than Now to up Your Sustainability

It’s uncertain how long we will need to self-isolate. Take advantage of this extra time to analyze your buying habits and the state of your home. Make changes to create a greener and more sustainable home environment that you can enjoy both now and long after the outbreak ends.

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