health home & lifestyle

Earth Day and Covid-19: How I’m Staying Eco in Quarantine

by fleurdelilah — April 22, 2020
eco in quarantine homemade baguettes on wooden chopping board

Staying eco in quarantine and French-approved, homemade baguettes—bon appétit!

These past few months have been unlike anything our generation has seen. Naturally, during this pandemic, we have to be particularly aware of how best to keep ourselves and others safe. That said, at a time when we are consumed by self-oriented thoughts (What do I need to stock up on? Should I wear gloves? Will I get sick?), I want to take a step back and shift the focus to the environment. As a result of this rapidly spreading virus, we as a society have been creating more and more waste. And as the economy sinks further, the Paris Accord gets pushed to the side. So, what can we do to stay eco in quarantine?

As someone who cares about the environment, I am always trying to make more conscious decisions. But, let’s be real—a completely zero waste lifestyle is hardly accessible to most of us. And that’s especially true during a pandemic. But we can try. In honor of Earth Day, here’s how I’m staying eco-friendly in lockdown!

Think Green in Quarantine

3 home sewn face masks for staying eco in quarantine

If you’re healthy, consider using cloth face masks so that high-risk individuals can get medical-grade options. Plus, switching to reusables will lower your eco-footprint!

1. I Look At Packaging

Unsurprisingly, my local farmer’s market has been canceled until things settle. And as a result, I have to shop for produce at the grocery store. But most produce is packaged here. Bananas are in plastic. Potatoes are in plastic. Apples are in plastic. The other week, I wanted to get some apples. I could choose from two options: either a plastic bag of five apples or individual unwrapped apples. As I began adding five unwrapped apples into my basket, an older patron pointed out to me that I could get the bag. And while it may have been quicker to pick up a bag of apples, it would’ve also been more damaging to the environment. In the end, I just smiled and told the woman I don’t like plastic before continuing on with my shopping.

But realistically, I cannot find everything plastic-free. Or when I do, it might be ridiculously expensive. When I can’t find package-free or sustainable options, I try to find a bigger amount (so less packaging overall) and make sure to reuse/recycle what I can.

2. I Bring My Own Bags

Last week, Bridget shared a humorous graphic about the struggles of plastic produce bags during this time. While I totally get the issue, I just haven’t had to deal with it. And that’s because I’ve been bringing my own shopping bags and produce bags for years now! Best of all, this simple change is not only eco-friendly but more hygienic, too. Unlike their plastic counterparts, I know exactly who touches my reusable bags—me! And once I’ve returned home and unpacked everything, I throw the bags into the wash to disinfect.

3. I Wear Cloth Masks

Aside from social distancing, one of the best things we can do to help prevent the spread of the virus is by wearing a mask. But everyone wearing disposable masks day after day creates a huge amount of waste (and shortage for those that really need them). So, as someone who is not a high-risk individual (or in contact with high-risk individuals) nor works in the medical field, I made some cloth masks that my husband and I use. You can find a ton of patterns online, but I just made my own pattern from a mask I already had and traced it on some old bed linens! We have enough masks that we can wash them after each use.

4. I Bake My Own Bread

Married to a Parisien, I think it’s not a surprise to say that we love bread in this household (along with wine and cheese! haha). So you can imagine how heartbroken I was when my favorite bakery nearby started wrapping everything in plastic. Because of that, I decided to bake my own bread. Of course, the flour does come in plastic, but I can make many loaves from that one bag. And honestly, I’ve been loving the whole process! In fact, I’m starting to bake other things I would have normally bought in a store. I now make fresh baguettes every other day—no need to venture out and no more stale bread.

5. I Wash My Hands (A Lot!)

Here in Japan, hand sanitizer is hard to come by these days. The only place I can find sanitizer is online from a reseller, and it’s going for 10 times the MSRP. I refuse to pay that. But, unless I can’t find a sink, I always just wash my hands. More affordable, accessible, and longer-lasting, plain old soap works just as well and can often be found in little to no packaging!

Relatedly, I also do not wear gloves. Regardless of whether you wear gloves or not, your hand is contaminated the moment it touches something (gloved or bare). So, I just try to not touch my face unless I’ve washed my hands. Let’s reduce our waste and leave the gloves to those who actually need them.

Those are five of the things I’m doing to stay eco in quarantine. What are some of your favorite ways we can help Mother Earth during this time?

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