“Why in the world should I care about being zero waste during the Coronavirus??” you may be thinking…
I’ve thought about it quite a bit recently. There’s so much going on in the world and in the adjusting of my own personal life. The anxiety can really build up if I’m not careful.
Don’t worry — this is not a post to put more on your plate or make you feel guilty. (Of course, that’s not my intent with any post.)
It’s also not a post to celebrate how much “good” is happening within the environment because of this COVID-19 pandemic. You may have heard about places in the world experiencing cleaner air than they have in years. Or about waters beginning to clear up. Stuff like that.
A friend recently shared this and I couldn’t have said it better:
“This is not a time for celebration. This is a wake-up call.”
What can we learn from this time of resetting our routines? What can we learn from these environmental observations? How can we use this time to build better habits moving forward?
Because here’s the thing: caring for the environment isn’t just about global warming. We’re living in this giant ecosystem together and our actions impact one another.
Take air pollution, for example. The World Health Organization shares that approximately 7 million people die from the health effects of air pollution every year. Those who are living with closer exposure to air pollution have much higher risk to these detrimental effects. Strokes, heart disease and lung cancer are attributed to air pollution in one third of all cases. Children are developing asthma, respiratory disorders, childhood cancers and cognitive impairment at growing rates worldwide. And during a global pandemic like this COVID-19 respiratory disease, think about who is now the most at-risk…
Environmental justice is social justice, and we need to care.
This TIME Magazine article talks about how quickly our emissions and level of pollution can bounce back after this pandemic. We cannot look at the positive environmental data from around the world and celebrate without any kind of intention to sustain these changes. The article ends on a hopeful note, stating:
“If policymakers make a concentrated and sustained effort to decarbonize our economy, today’s clear skies give us a preview of what may come—even if it takes decades to get there.”
Much of the zero waste movement depends on policymakers, true. But (as I’ve said in many previous posts) individuals become the masses, and the masses drive change. WE, the individuals, are working to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. WE, the individuals, can also use this time to reset some of our habits and flatten this other curve:
Like I said earlier, this post is not meant to put more on your plate during an already challenging time. My goal is to inspire your thinking, maybe even engage in some discussion, and to help you take the steps that you’re capable of doing right now.
Zero Waste Options During The Coronavirus
Are you saving money during this time by making more conscious decisions about what you purchase? Have you become more aware of the small businesses in your area that you can support? Are you walking more places to at least get out of the house and exercise a bit? Have you needed to DIY a project, like making masks out of fabric or making your own hand sanitizer? Are you carefully planning what you eat, when you buy, and how much you spend? Or whether it makes more sense to cook or get take-out delivered to your home?
These are just some examples of the kinds of adjustments you may be making right now. And the circumstances are not something to be celebrated. But the personal and environmental gains that may result from this pandemic could shine a light into the darkness down the road.
Today, I’m going to give 3 options for you to consider that would bring positive results from this hard time. My hope is that these options will benefit you AND this ecosystem we call home.
1. Reusable or Paper Bags Over Single-Use Plastic
The most important ways to protect yourself from contamination are washing your hands and not touching your face. But it helps to know which surfaces are most likely contaminated. This study shows how long the Coronavirus can live on specific surfaces… And plastic and stainless steel are actually the worst. The virus can live on plastic for up to 3 days! It’s easy to think if something is wrapped in plastic then that means it’s sterile. But that’s just not the case.
If you go to the store, continue to bring your own reusable bags (if you have them) or use paper. The virus can only live up to 24 hours on cardboard (including paper) surfaces. Using your own bags also guarantees that you know who has touched them. And you can always wash them when you get home in between trips.
If you order your groceries to be delivered, most services allow you to ask for paper instead of plastic. You can also make a note to put your produce in paper rather than the little single-use plastic produce bags.
In this article, Béa Johnson, author of Zero-Waste Home, compares being afraid of reusables “as ridiculous as being afraid of Corona beer”. Paper or reusable bags continue to be the safest options for you and better for the environment. (you can read my previous post on this for more in-depth research)
2. Eat Plant-Based Meals 1-2 Times Per Week
Ideally, I would recommend you eat plant-based all the time! …But that’s a much longer post (or series) for another time. And I said I wouldn’t put too much on your plate. (haha, that could be a silly pun if I tried harder!) 😉
So what can I put on your plate that’s not too overwhelming? How about more fruits and veggies a couple times a week?
The breeding and caring for animals to produce food “creates as much carbon emissions as the entire transportation sector” in one year! (source) It also utilizes more than 50% of our fresh water supply and up to 49% of global food supply! (consider all the grain it takes to feed these animals) Just ONE pound of beef requires anywhere between 2,000-8,000 gallons of water to produce. Compare this to one pound of tofu which requires 302 gallons of water to produce.
“Meatless Monday” also has a site with many comparisons that show you the direct impact of eating less animal products. For example, not eating 1/4 pound of beef just one day a week throughout the year equates to saving the emissions from driving 348 miles!!
When planning your meals, one of the top ways you can be zero waste during the Coronavirus pandemic is by simply cutting out meat once or twice or more per week. This is healthy for you, great for the earth, and it’s a pretty good time to start… I’ve noticed most of the meat is gone in grocery stores these days… But produce and vegan/vegetarian products are still stocked on most shelves!
If you want some easy recipes to start with, here’s a helpful link! I am also available to schedule a consultation with you and support you in meal-planning, giving you recipes (I have over 100!), and budgeting so that it SAVES you money in the process! Send me a note if interested.
3. Consider Buying A Bidet
If you’ve been following my content for a bit, you know I love our bidet! Yup, might sound weird, but that’s ok with me — it’s been a total game changer. We save so much toilet paper and it’s way more sanitary. Imagine if a bird pooped on your arm. Would you merely wipe it off with a napkin or would you want to wash it off? 😉
I’ve got a whole post about the eco-friendly options for toilet paper, but I know this is currently in high demand and low supply. If you’re up for trying something newer, better, more sanitary, and you ultimately want to save some money in the long run — I’d highly recommend a bidet.
One of Kevin’s friends (a tough biker dude by the way) took me up on this and was willing to share his thoughts:
“After seeing Katie Kurpanek posting about the Tushy Bidet, I was intrigued and did some research. Ordered the Spa version and couldn’t be happier. Not only am I doing right by the environment but it’s amazing how much cleaner and sanitary this is. Thank you, thank you!!!”
I’m pretty stoked to see friends making this sustainable switch! AND I’m happy to offer you all a special discount if you’re interested! Just click the *link below and you can take $5 off any order from my favorite brand with the code: TUSHY5OFF
*(using this link gives you a discount and supports me as a small business – thank you!)
Take Care Of Yourselves And The Planet During This Pandemic!
WE are the individuals who become the masses. WE can flatten both curves by working toward zero waste during the Coronavirus. And WE are in this together.
I’m sending each of you my love and support. I’m here if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out.