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I know I’m not alone in the feeling of being “over” social distancing. Of course, I’ll keep it up until it’s safe to do otherwise, but sometimes I forget what day of the week it is. Sometimes I long for drawn-out dinner with friends, and sometimes I miss the freedom to work from outside of my home. And although I’m sure most of us feel this way to some degree or another, there are obvious positives to staying home and safely social distancing. Like what, you may ask? My time (and boredom) at home has given me the opportunity to take some time and reflect on my daily habits. The ones I love, the ones I could live without, and the habits that both harmful for me and our lovely Mother Earth.
So, if you’re feeling cooped up, and ready to do some self-work, follow along with me to use this extra time at home to take a step back, assess old habits, and create better sustainable new ones.
Put Your Health First
It should go without saying that the number one priority for you, your family, and your community is health and safety. The more time I thought about how I could be more sustainable, the greater guilt I felt for using copious amounts of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and the like. But here’s the thing: there are sustainable habits that you can and should think about implementing at this time, but the ones that can keep you safe are also the ones that shouldn’t burden you with guilt.
Yes, you can’t recycle those many disinfecting wipes you use throughout the day, but just because you can’t doesn’t mean you should stop using them. Don’t be upset with yourself over that. Remember that these are unprecedented times, and sometimes you have to sacrifice your values and wants for sustainability to ensure the physical safety of yourself and your fellow man.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Simply staying at home is lowering your carbon footprint. However, with all this extra time on your hands, you can be doing more to create broaden your sustainable habits.
Start sorting your recycling with more care. I’m pretty sure we’ve all done this. We think something is recyclable, or we assume that it is, toss it in the recycling bin only to realize that it’s not, contaminating the entire batch. Here’s the thing, don’t feel ashamed of having “wish-cycled” in the past. It happens to the best of us (or the lazy among us). Now that you’re home, it’s a great time to sort out any issues in the recycling department. Print out an okay-to-recycle list and hang it up above your trash and recycling bin. Make sure everyone in your household is doing their part to recycle correctly, in accordance with your city’s rules and regulations.
Exercise Safely. No matter if you’re just taking a stroll around your neighborhood or safely using the amenities within your community, building a habit to exercise (no matter the level) and lessen your carbon footprint by exploring your surroundings without the use of your vehicle.
Self-Care Can Be Sustainable
Finish what you have before you buy something new. It can be a huge temptation to shop online when you’re spending more time at home, but if you want to get in a “sustainable” mindset, try to forgo breaking the bank and instead use up what you already have. Use up the products you have, and once they’re finished, you’ll know it’s the perfect time to replace those items with more sustainable, nonpackaged products.
Get the Family Involved & Have Fun Doing It
Sometimes sustainable habits are easier to keep when you get the whole family involved. From planting a garden and learning how to make compost, to making homemade meals together and using reusable water bottles, there are many ways you can engage your children in fun learning activities that promote sustainability and self-resilience. In a time such as this, that may be the most important thing we can do for them as parents. So, make it fun, get the family involved, and learn new habits together!