Tips to Help Reduce Waste During COVID-19 is the SPECIAL topic for the Environment: It is easy being green, 12-part series. As a person regularly working in the community, I always make sure to have a few easy topics to cover. Let’s face it, sustainability as a term is defined so many ways. In this blog series, I will share each topic to expand the reach of information.
Practicing zero to low waste can be challenging for many during COVID-19. Shopping aisles in grocery and big box stores have been depleted of many household essentials, and many stores have removed fresh food and self-serve bins to prevent contamination. Never mind your favorite coffee to-go in your own reusable container – assuming your favorite coffee shop is even open.
During these uncertain times, it can be easy to pause on sustainable practices but don’t feel guilty, you’re not alone. We’re all doing the best we can to still be eco-conscious and reduce our waste, during COVID-19. Here are a few helpful tips to consider:
Tips to Help Reduce Waste During COVID-19
Shopping aisles in grocery and big box stores have been depleted of many household essentials, and many stores have removed fresh food and self-serve bins to prevent contamination. Never mind your favorite coffee-to-go in your own reusable container, that’s assuming your favorite coffee shop is even open.
1. Wash Your Hands. Safety first! Before you start thinking about reducing your waste, make sure you are keeping
yourself healthy. Here’s a great video from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, “handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.” If you don’t have access to soap and water, please consider using hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands. Use natural moisturizers like coconut, olive, safflower or sweet almond oil to keep your hands from feeling dry.
2. Choose your towels carefully. Paper versus Cloth? Reusable cloth towels are best for reducing waste. However, during COVID 19 folks might second-guess the idea of using a hand towel or cloth. Consider hanging a clothesline and use clothespins to hang hand towels in the bathroom. You can write the name of each person in your household on each clothespin, and you’ll never have to wonder who’s towel you’re using. Hang towels in the bathroom and kitchen to avoid using a paper towel! Hand towels can be made out of previously used items like old bath towels, t-shirts, flannel sheets, etc. Not only are these items more durable, but they can also be added to the laundry and NOT in the landfill!
As a gentle reminder, avoid plastic, such as microfiber. Go with cotton, bamboo, denim, hemp or other natural fibers to keep microfibers out of our waterways. While microfiber cloths are valued for lint-free cleaning, they also shed plastic microfibers when washed.
4. Service Size Matters. Buy bulk to reduce waste. Check out this article from One Green Planet, Buy These 10 Items in Bulk and Help Keep Tons of Plastic Trash Out of the Oceans, for ideas. As an example, skip the single-use coffee maker and use ground coffee in a larger coffee pot instead. The used coffee grounds can then go into your compost pile compost. Don’t have a compost pile? Learn more about backyard composting from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.
5. Reduce or Eliminate Food Waste.Buy locally or even better, grow what you need. If you cannot grow your own veggies, join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program like City Fresh or Fresh Fork. By participating in buying locally, you reduce your carbon footprint and food waste. Plus, food scraps can go into the compost instead of the waste stream. Not sure how to get started composting? Check out this helpful article on composting for helpful tips and resources.
6. What’s In Your Cupboard? Sheltering in place means STAY AT HOME! Check out your own shelves before heading to the
grocery store. Eat things that are getting close to their expiration date first. Plan ahead before shopping to ensure you buy only what you need - focusing on items with little to no packaging.
The next topic in the Environment blog, 12-part series, is Hydrate: Water Conservation.