It’s safe to say that there isn’t much of a roadmap for how to do most things during a global pandemic, COVID-19 included. When everything is unprecedented, it’s challenging to know how to be eco-friendly during COVID-19. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of single-use personal protective equipment, and an increase in the waste associated with eating out, as restaurants attempt to operate safely and prevent the spread of germs.
It may be hard to know where to make sustainable, eco-friendly choices and where to focus on safety and wellness, but here are a few simple tips that can serve as a starting point.
Wear reusable face masks
Face masks have become a staple of our everyday routines almost overnight. They are essential to protect ourselves and the people we interact with throughout the course of our day, and in most places are required in public settings. Wearing a reusable face mask is a simple step to cut down on the waste we create during a pandemic. Reusable face coverings are also cheaper in the long run than constantly purchasing new masks that have to be thrown away after only a day or two of use. They are also much more comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and can even be a bit of a fashion statement. It can also help kids be more motivated to wear their masks if they have a couple of fun reusable options that they can pick from instead of having to wear a clinical-looking, disposable mask that reminds them of a visit to the doctors office.
Cook meals at home
With many restaurants shifting from dine-in to take out only in order to protect their patrons and employees, we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of waste created. One simple way to offset this is to start cooking at home more often. Many people are working at home right now and that makes it easier than ever before to start experimenting with making meals yourself.
If cooking at home feels intimidating or overwhelming, start small. Try making one or two meals a day at home, or set a goal of making two dinners at home every week and work up from there. There are also a number of delivery options like Freshly, that will deliver meal kits directly to your house, that include all the ingredients and directions to easily make a delicious and healthy homemade meal. When you use EcoCart to order your Freshly kits, you can also ensure that their delivery is carbon neutral!
Even these small changes over a long period of time can make a big difference to your carbon footprint. They also provide a great way to spend time with friends and family and rediscover or learn a new skill together. Cooking at home can also save you money, and often encourages healthier eating habits. That’s a win for everyone and the environment!
Avoid single use plastics whenever possible
One downside of carry out and drive through orders during a pandemic is the amount of single use plastics that are created. Every order often comes with a full set of plastic cutlery in addition to the carry out containers and plastic bags that they are packaged in. Plus, many cities are requiring restaurants to seal orders in additional packaging to ensure delivery drivers aren’t tampering with orders.
While concerns about the pandemic have limited the ability to use reusable containers when getting coffee or lunch to go, we can still ask restaurants to leave out the cutlery packs and use what we have at home. This is a small step, that in the end can mean hundreds of less cutlery packs end up in the landfill. We can also look for opportunities where we can safely use our reusable containers, instead of just assuming that most restaurants won’t accept them right now.
Use EcoCart to offset the carbon footprint of your online orders
With many people trying to avoid crowded stores and long lines right now, everyone is shopping and buying more online than ever before. E-commerce is an important tool in promoting social distancing and allowing people to purchase necessities from the safety of their home, but it does bring with it a carbon footprint. There are a number of ways to minimize your carbon footprint while online shopping, such as grouping orders together to save on packaging, and minimizing spontaneous purchases that you may not need.
The easiest way to accomplish this, is to also use the EcoCart Chrome extension. Just install it in your Chrome browser, and EcoCart does the rest. When you’re shopping on a supported website, you’ll see a popup asking if you want to make your order carbon neutral. Hit the green button, and EcoCart does the rest of the work for you. It’s that simple—and completely free!
Make a difference where you can!
This past year has had no shortage of stress and distractions, and it’s important to recognize the limitations that this pandemic has created. There are some areas where we have to make choices that while beneficial for the health of our society and continuing some societal norms, are not great for the environment. It’s important to find the areas where we can make a difference and focus our efforts there. Living a sustainable lifestyle can feel overwhelming in the best of times. But it doesn’t have to. It’s all about consistent, sustainable decisions, that while small on their own add up to big change down the road.