Globally, we’re living through something right now that most of us never imagined. Is it possible to maintain our family footprint projects and take lighter steps during this global crisis?
Coronavirus has brought restrictions and shortages, and necessary changes to our usual routines. In these stressful times, it might be easier to abandon our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. While I always advocate being kind to yourself, I believe we can continue as best we can. We can continue to move toward our goals to reduce less waste, reduce our resource consumption and tread more lightly on the Earth. Our actions may have to be a little more imperfect than otherwise but it is imperfect action nonetheless.
For anyone who is concerned about the environment, seeing the retrogressive steps that have been necessary is distressing. Reusable coffee cups have been banned. There will be more pre-packaged produce at the farmer’s market. But we accept the necessity of these measures and take heart that they will only be necessary during the current crisis.
However, what positives can we take from all this and what is it still possible to do within our family footprint projects?
Let’s start with the big one, grocery shopping. We had got into a nice rhythm with our grocery shopping which includes making a menu plan for the week and buying as much as we can from the farmers market in our reusable produce bags before picking up other grocery items at our local bulk foods store or our neighbourhood supermarket. We’ve had to make some adjustments but generally we’ll keep at it.
Having a menu plan and a shopping list for a week, reduces the number of trips to the shops that are necessary. We all need to minimise unnecessary outings and planning helps with that. If you haven’t menu planned before, I recommend giving it a try. There are lots of resources online to help. Also see my post, Quick and Easy Menu Planning, for a look at how and why I do it.
While we can still shop at the farmer’s market, for the time being at least, it seems that more of the produce will be prepackaged to encourage faster shopping and limit the handling of produce. An understandable and necessary measure. Rather than be stressed about the additional packaging, I’ll simply take care to recycle it for now. According to their website, there have been no changes to RedCycle soft plastic recycling at this time.
Sadly many of the bins at our bulk food store are also empty as people have stockpiled pantry items. This means we’ve had to buy more things in plastic from the supermarket. Again, accepting the situation and recycling the packaging is better than getting stressed about it.
Growing your own
The Diggers Club has been inundated with orders for vegetable seeds. Clearly growing your own produce is not a quick fix which is why the stockpiling of vegetable seeds, which we have seen in the media, is rather nonsensical. However, if you have a view to living more sustainably long term, now might be an excellent time to learn about and start vegetable gardening – if you can get seeds! We’re coming into winter in the southern hemisphere so I’m planting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions and peas. In the northern hemisphere, you have the summer crops of tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers to look forward to, just to name a few.
We’ve been planning for backyard chickens for years. My husband has been building them a palace in our backyard for more time than either of us would like to admit. BUT, it is finally finished. And… we can’t get any chickens. Again, there has been a rush to buy laying hens to the point that chicken breeders are concerned that they are going to homes where people are not set up to care for them and are not committed to them in the long term.
If you are committed to caring for them long term and reaping the many benefits that they provide including eggs, manure and fun, now might be a good time to research and prepare for introducing them.
Making from Scratch
With the necessary slowing down that being confined to home brings, you might have more time to build your repertoire of things you make from scratch. If you’d like some ideas for where to start, check out my 10 Things to Make from Scratch post. For homemade cleaning products, see my Lower Impact Cleaning post.
When you can’t find something in the supermarket, or you’d rather not make another trip to where people are not taking physical distancing seriously, making from scratch might be the answer. If you have eggs, flour, oil and salt, you have pasta – and you don’t need a pasta machine. I mix mine in my stand mixer to save on mess.
Research and Learning
With fewer commitments, less time running the kids around to activities and more time at home, it is the ideal time to do a little (or a lot) of research into new ways reduce your carbon footprint. You might look at doing an energy or water audit. Find the best solar solution for your home. Uncover some tasty vegetarian recipes to replace some of your meat meals each week. There are so many possible steps to take. If the only thing holding you back is time to work out how to do them, now is your chance.
It is also a wonderful chance to learn a new skill, such as vegetable gardening mentioned above. Or, if you have a sewing machine tucked away in a cupboard, pull it out and make something like a bread collection bag (for when we can use reusables again). I also have a ‘how to’ for reusable makeup wipes. Perhaps you could get through your mending pile using YouTube videos for guidance or have a go at chemical free beauty products. We’re so fortunate that, in among the cat videos, there are terrific how-to videos for just about anything online.
Are there any positives to take from this situation? The world is certainly going to be different on the other side. I wonder if a general return to ‘home’, with self-isolation measures and increased working from home might bring about a shift of mindset for people and many of us will be seeking a slower way of life after COVID-19 has passed.
The best things in life aren’t things.Laurence J. Peter
Will people find discover that, with a restriction on their access to shopping, that their consumption habits change permanently. Perhaps they will discover that there is more fulfilment and meaning to be found in people rather than things. I don’t know but perhaps there will be some silver linings.
Be Kind To Yourself
First and foremost, however, during this stressful time, take care and be kind to yourself. This virus pandemic has and will continue to disrupt your routines and habits. As far as your sustainability measures go, it is ok if your actions are a little more imperfect than usual. And it is important to take the time to care for yourself, physically and mentally.
Go gently friends.
I’d love to hear how you are managing to take lighter steps in the global crisis. If you have any tips for adapting our sustainability efforts within the restrictions, please comment below.