For about two weeks, I joked about the stock-piling of toilet paper, laughing at this seemingly needless panic raging through store aisles, and I wasn’t really concerned. I even posted about how we all just need to wash our hands and calm down — we’re going to be fine, people. No need to lose our minds over this hyped up flu called the Coronavirus. 

Now, I’ve changed my perspective. 

Not to say I’ve embraced the panic-mode. No, and far from it. But I have since realized the validity in many people’s fears and can empathize with the urge to stock up on supplies as though preparing for the apocalypse.  

Mass media coverage which produces intensified emotional reactions — yes, there’s that. 

But then there’s all this: 

  • Very real people suffering from the disease and death counts rising
  • People genuinely concerned for their more susceptible loved ones (elderly grandparents, newly pregnant mamas, children with respiratory disorders, etc)
  • Parents who are struggling to find child-care as schools close and/or release early due to safety concerns
  • Employees who do not receive paid time off or sick days
  • Racism rearing its head, grounded in fear  
  • Food banks and homeless shelters lacking in resources to provide for those in high-risk conditions
  • Families who are struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford to “stockpile” (and also can’t even find the resources they could afford due to those who previously did all their stockpiling…)
  • Small businesses are at risk
  • The list goes on… 

Again, I’m not saying we should all panic and build bigger stockpiles. That is in no way helpful. 

But we need to allow space for these fears. We need to validate the very real struggles of others. Especially if we are removed from such challenges and have the privilege of feeling confident in our own safety. I know how easy it was for me to get caught in my personal bubble and to overlook an entire struggling population because of that.

Most importantly, we need to be a community of people who come together and support each other in crisis. 

That being said, the Coronavirus (or COVID-19) is impacting all of us to some degree. Whether your only worry is about lacking toilet paper or you’re genuinely scared about losing your business, we all have steps we can take. 

My goal here is to provide you all with some helpful safety tips as well as some hopeful outcomes for when this season passes.  This is a very challenging time, but some good can come from it yet. 

If you’re privileged enough to not be directly suffering from this COVID-19 outbreak and have a wealth of resources compared to others, I urge you to share that abundance. Care for others the way you would hope to be cared for in a hard time. 

Safety Tips To Prepare For / Fight Against The Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides a really helpful checklist for staying safe from and preparing for the COVID-19 spread. It covers hygienic practices and what to do if an outbreak occurs in your community. This includes how to prep your family, home, workspace, and coping in the aftermath.

woman sitting on bed with computer and her own mug of coffee as example of staying away from coronavirus exposure

Many people have chosen to self-quarantine for a couple of weeks if this is a viable option for them. Of course, that’s not an option for most of us. In order to keep yourself and others safe, you can always choose to opt out of unnecessary traveling, attending large public events, and even rethink that daily trip to Starbucks. 

Could you make your cup of coffee / loose-leaf tea / smoothie / whatever at home? Not only does this keep others safer, but it’ll save you money and you won’t need to use a disposable cup. Most places are taking precautionary measures and no longer accepting reusable mugs for the time-being, but a plastic cup doesn’t always guarantee it’s sanitary. I’d rather use my own dishes, knowing who’s touched them and the conditions in which they’ve been stored. Just sayin.

chalkboard that says "buying crap you don't need is basically stealing money from yourself"

On a business note, there’s a lot of current speculation about the possibility of a global recession (at the time this post is being written). Whether or not this happens on a grand scale, it would be wise to save money and prepare ourselves. As fitting as this is within the zero waste lifestyle, it’s got a lot of personal benefits! Consider reducing unnecessary consumption, valuing what you already own, taking on some DIY projects, and if you need to buy something new then try buying second-hand or supporting local businesses.

Hopeful Outcomes From This Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic 

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

I don’t think it’s naive to hope for some positive outcomes as a result of this tragedy. Look for the helpers.

Be the helpers. 

Below are my hopes for the aftermath of COVID-19, both in relation to and separate from zero waste living.

person washing hands to prevent catching the coronavirus

As a result of the safety tips discussed above, I’m hopeful for consistent and better hygienic habits. 😉 This is a serious and good reminder to cover our coughs, wash our hands, and so on.

local zero waste shop

Also connected to the safety tips above, I’m hopeful for a major decrease in consumerism. In America, we’re especially guilty of over-indulging and consuming way more than we need. It may seem ironic to hope for this as masses of people continue to hoard toilet paper for themselves, but there will come a point where this kind of excessive consumption isn’t possible due to shortages, recession, etc. It may drive many of us to a point where we step back and count our blessings. I’m hopeful that we begin to value what we own, to realize we don’t need everything new, and that we even begin to support local, small, and/or second-hand businesses more often.

Here’s a helpful resource on how to support small businesses amidst the coronavirus pandemic!

woman holding elderly person's hand in waiting room

Let’s BE the helpers!! I am so hopeful for this. And I already see it happening. Look at your current situation and consider what you can do to help others:  

  • Donate food/time/money/childcare/other resources to those in need right now. What do you have that you can give?
  • Care for those who may be at higher risk (elderly, those with previous conditions…) — check on their well-being. 
  • Get to know your neighbors better and work together to care for your small community. How can you help each other?
  • Keep in touch with family/friends through phone, email, social media, etc. People can become awfully lonely when fear and worry set in. 
  • Care for the emotional needs and concerns of your family. Kids are especially notorious for absorbing everything they hear like a sponge and are left wondering how to make sense of it all. Several complaints of a tummy-ache or emotional breakdowns may be signaling the need for deeper conversations. Check out this helpful resource for helping children’s anxiety!

I’m hopeful for increasingly raised awareness regarding the environment – both climate justice and social justice – even more than we saw in 2019. Due to travel bans or the individual choice to find alternative means of travel, I hope we can realize it’s not the end of the world to do things differently than we’re used to or to learn more about unfamiliar routes. I’m hopeful this will also educate people about their overall carbon footprint, their level of consumption, and how their choices indirectly impact others. 

toilet paper in short supply due to coronavirus

On that note, I’m honestly hopeful for a shift in American habits — even when it comes to our bathrooms! The unsustainable global demand for toilet paper may hit a wall when it comes to supply and the Google searches for “bidets” have already been trending upward. I’m hopeful that a lack of toilet paper may cause people to reconsider their habits and try something different. Bidets are much better for the environment anyway and even more sanitary! (A post totally dedicated to bidets is coming, but for now, check out my post on toilet paper…)

Also, if you’re open to trying a bidet, I highly recommend the Tushy Classic bidet! We personally own and love this one — easy to install and use. (This is an affiliate link, meaning if you click on it and order one I will receive a small commission at no added cost to you. Thank you for supporting a small business!)

woman sitting and reading from computer at home writing in notebook

Finally, if it comes down to it and we all experience an in-home-quarantine at some point, I hope it causes us to slow down. We live in such an on-the-go society with so many demands and distractions. I’m hopeful we could value time with our family even deeper, that we could invest in projects or learning that would be beneficial, and that the time may even be… refreshing? But that ties right back into helping each other — it will absolutely not feel refreshing to those panicking over losing their income and currently living paycheck to paycheck. If it comes to this, we need to step up and share our resources with each other.

Keep Calm and Help Others

We’re in this together. You may or may not be personally affected by the Coronavirus, but I’m sure you could imagine what it might be like if you were. Think of your loved ones, the weight of caring for them and yourself, the many resources in your life that you’re blessed to have… and think about how it would feel if all that were suddenly put at risk. 

What would you need? What would you want others to do for you? 

Be the helper. Turn this pandemic into an opportunity to grow an even deeper sense of community. 

Let’s spread this kindness like a virus. 

Like a good one. 😉 

hands holding together making a circle

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