These days, living a sustainable lifestyle seems to have taken a backseat to grabbing what we can from the stores while they’re still on the shelves. Seriously, why can’t a person find paper towels or toilet paper anywhere? Whether it’s the result of hoarding or that people simply have been using more due to quarantine, this is a cause for reflection on how much we’re using.
In recent news, grocery stores have temporarily banned reusable grocery bags from entering the premises. In addition, quarantine or shelter-in-place for COVID-19 means that more people are ordering takeout than before. This is causing a major spike in plastic consumption during this time and expected to rise as more time passes.
Reduce, reuse, recycle–is this possible during a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or rather any global crisis for that matter? We think so. If you really thought about it, you could very well find workarounds for using say, too many paper towels, or too much plastic wrap, or even too many disinfectant wipes.
Refrain from buying bottled water
The importance of sustainable habits and living a mindful lifestyle is more important than ever. As we approach Earth Day, we want to drive home the fact that people are buying more plastic bottled water than ever, among other products, that add to the single-use waste issue. Bottled water should be used as a last resort in disaster situations to provide relief to the masses. Not for daily consumption.
Plastic bottles are made with toxic chemicals like BPA that will leech into the very water it’s bottling, and as you can gather, you’d be exposing yourself to unnecessary chemicals by drinking it. Instead, use a filter system to eliminate heavy metals from your tap water, or use your LARQ Bottle to purify and eradicate germs from your water.
Reduce paper towel use
If you got your hands on paper towels, that’s great! But that doesn’t mean that you should use them to your heart’s content. Paper towels can be used for everything under the sun, but if you’re using a sheet every single time you wash your hands, this can get quite wasteful.
The CDC recommends washing hands thoroughly and wiping dry on a clean cloth or air drying. The important steps are lathering with soap and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds (about the length of singing “Happy Birthday” twice). Use a clean cloth to wipe your hands. You should replace your hand towels routinely depending on how many people in your household are using it–the frequency should be increased if there are more people using the same cloth after washing.
For light kitchen spills or cleaning, use a washcloth for spot cleaning countertops after cooking instead of using paper towels or disinfectant wipes every time. Simply hand wash the washcloth with dish soap and warm water after each use and hang it to dry.
You can probably tell there are a lot of little ways to reduce your paper towel use. Always reuse when you can. And please, don’t hoard essential products like this from people who might desperately need them. People caring for infected loved ones at home or severely ill individuals need these to take extra precautions at home.
Be stingy with your disinfectant wipes
Some of us are in a place where nothing that enters the home without a good disinfectant wipe-down, and with good reason. However, being extra careful doesn’t mean being extra wasteful. With wipes, we all know sometimes they’re a little too saturated or the sheets are too large for what you’re using them for.
How I’m living now with my partner has changed drastically since our pre-shelter-in-place days. First of all, before quarantining, I only used disinfectant wipes to do a weekly deep clean of my room, living areas, kitchen, and the bathroom. Now, it’s used for everything that enters the house. So, we try to cut down our sheets if we only ordered a few grocery items via Instacart, or packages from Amazon. If we did a big grocery haul, we cut a sheet in half and divide and conquer. For phones and other electronics, we’ve been using 91% Isopropyl that we already had on hand, soaked a tiny spot of this on half of a cotton pad (yes, we’re being stingy with this too), and wipe our phones down. Alternatively, we’ve been using our Bust-a-germ box to do a zero-waste UV-sanitization clean. The Bust-a-germ box was a really quick and easy DIY on how to build your own UV-sanitizer to utilize with your LARQ Bottle caps you already have. We built two Bust-a-germs for our phones, keys, hand sanitizer, and even our reusable face masks. Basically, anything that we took with us out goes into the Bust-a-germ as soon as we get home and finish washing our hands.
Use your DIY Bust-a-germ box
The Bust-a-germ box is no doubt the best method to sanitize sustainably and without the use of scarce resources like disinfectant wipes or sprays. This DIY UV-sanitization chamber we concocted uses your LARQ Bottle cap’s PureVis™ technology to eradicate bacteria and viruses from your household objects without the use of harsh chemicals or supplies you can use for other things. This device has saved us on using too many disinfectant wipes and sprays which we use on larger surfaces and objects in the house. Did you know your LARQ Bottle’s technology could do all that? Well yes, it can, and all the while, it’s doing the same thing in your water bottle to purify water and keep it bacteria-free.
Make your own reusable face mask
The CDC is officially recommending the public to use or make reusable cloth face masks instead of buying N95 masks or even surgical masks as these should be reserved for our frontline healthcare professionals. In fact, we donated the 1,000 face masks that we had on hand to healthcare heroes fighting COVID-19. And instead, we’re using our own reusable cloth face masks, reducing the amount of time we’re out to avoid exposure, and staying 6ft apart from others when we are out.
Reusable cloth face masks are more environmentally friendly than single-use masks. They’re not meant for people who are regularly interacting with a loved one who is ill, but are for everyone who is not working the frontlines during COVID-19. Just remember to launder or hand wash your reusable face masks routinely (depending on the frequency of use) and follow the CDC’s guidelines on how to make reusable cloth masks.
Use reusable containers or eco-friendly cling wrap
Due to the quarantine, we’re staying home and cooking a lot more, which also means that there is the potential need for plastic sandwich bags and saran wrap for storing leftovers. Not to mention all the takeout containers for those days where you’re ordering in instead.
If you’re cooking up a storm and have leftovers, opt to use your reusable food containers instead or eco-friendly cling wrap made from silicone or beeswax instead of saran wrap.
As for your frequent takeout situation, we believe you should support local restaurants, but try to limit the amount of takeout you’re ordering in a week. Or, make a note to the restaurant to omit single-use cutlery from the order, or encourage restaurants to use paper instead of plastic.
Prevent food waste
For those of us who aren’t used to cooking every meal, cooking at home can be challenging and inadvertently result in food waste. An easy way to prevent this is to plan ahead. Do your research on some meals you want to cook. It’s important to find recipe ideas that call for similar ingredients. Also, keep some produce on hand that you know you can whip up something fast with like avocado toast, grilled cheese, or a caesar salad. Just remember to consume within a week to avoid food waste! If you haven’t already, compost any food scraps. This reduces the volume of waste going into landfills and helps repurpose organic material.
Reuse glass jars
Whether you’re buying tomato sauce or jams, opt for glass jarred products instead of plastic at the grocery store when possible. These glass jars can be recycled or even upcycled as containers around the house. You can grow your own scallions in just some water in a glass, and 2-3 inches of the root of the scallion. You can organize your snacking nut collection in jars or make some overnight oats in them too! Think beyond the kitchen and organize your push pins or paper clips in the glass jars. The possibilities are endless.
Take shorter showers
Water conservation is more important than ever as more products are being produced all the time. Most processing, produce, and production requires an amount of freshwater and carbon emissions. Only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater supply, and 70% of that freshwater supply is used for agriculture. With everyone (hopefully) washing their hands frequently, we’ll need to find other ways to conserve water.