Mother Earth is hurting. While this pandemic originated in China from bats and pangolins, it is indicative of how corporate greed, zero respect for nature and abuse of our resources has gotten out of control. Humans really need to pause this abuse and over indulgence and think about what we are doing to our own home. This is natures way of lashing out at us and caging us into our homes just as we do to animals and the environment in the name of entertainment or progress. We cannot simply over power nature. And why are we even trying? Can we not respect it and live in harmony? At GUNAS I have been advocating this philosophy since a decade now in the for of sustainable fashion that's respectful to people, animals and our planet. I saw this coming in a way. There's only so much destruction our earth can take. We humans have to understand the importance of keeping this circle of life going. Otherwise we are in the process of wiping out all evidence of our own existence.
As we live through this new norm I came up with a few tips and pointers from my own home to help you get through these times in an ethical and sustainable fashion. Try to apply as many as possible within your own lifestyle.
TOILET PAPER FRENZY
Beat the toilet paper frenzy by switching to using a bidet. While not so popular in the US, a bidet is widely used in many Asian and European countries. It will certainly help reduce your reliance on toilet paper so you don't need to hoard anymore. Plus it's super sustainable since you aren't contributing to the cutting of trees. It also has several health benefits for those suffering from hemorrhoids. Here's my recommendation. It's inexpensive and will save you tons of $$ on toilet paper.
DITCH PAPER TOWELS
Paper towels are so unnecessary! Switch to micro fibre cleaning cloths around the house. I keep a pile of 8-10 cloths handy whether i need to clean spills or wipe counter tops. I also use them to wipe mirrors, cabinets, toilet counters and appliances. (separate ones for each of course) Simply toss them in the laundry at the end of the day and they are fresh as new. I find this a lot more sustainable than using one time use paper towels. I'd limit their use to absolute goop that I don't want to use wash in the laundry later. Even for pet accidents, try using good old newspaper if you subscribe to one. Here's what I use in my home.
EAT AS MANY FRESH FRUITS AND VEGGIES POSSIBLE
I was surprised to see that the frozen meat and canned veggies aisle at the grocery stores in my neighborhood were the first to get wiped out when the news of shelter in place first broke out in New York city. It still surprises me how people aren't making the connection between animal source food and health problems. This virus, just like SARS, H1N1, Swine flu originated from animal consumption. Maintain a good immune system by consuming less processed foods and more of freshly prepared veggies and cut fruits. Use this time to try your favorite recipes, preparing things from scratch and enjoying some cooking time with your family. I've personally been making fresh pomegranate and orange juice at home daily using my Vitamix blender. No need for canned and bottled beverages.
Picture Source: Smart Air Filters
SHORTAGE OF MASKS, NO PROBLEM
Surgical masks and homemade masks aren't going to completely protect you against inhaling the virus. If you have a simple fabric mask add these N95 filters to it in order to make them functional and do the job right. These are readily available on amazon. (Think removable padding for your sports bra!) Just insert into your homemade mask and you are more prepared than before! What's better? These are reusable. Simply remove the filter, wash your fabric mask from time to time and reuse.
CLOTH DIAPER MAMAS
If you're a mama, now is the perfect time to give cloth diapering a try! I can speak from personal experience of having used these fabulous cloth diapers by Charlie Banana for my daughter when she was needed them. I used a combination of disposables and cloth. Disposables primarily only for travel (no worries about that for now!) or accidents at night time. Yes, its extra effort but it's so much better for the environment and for your baby's skin.
Now that you are home, it's so easy to overeat out of boredom or just because you have access to food easily as you stocked up on it or simply because you are cooking more. Limit your food intake by following intermittent fasting. I use this great app called Bodyfast that helps me set my schedule for eating and acts as my personal coach for a small cost. This way you are not only helping to flatten the covid curve but also your waistline ;)
STOP ONE TIME USE PLASTIC
One time use plastic is a huge problem for our environment. Switch your plastic bags to grocery totes. I found some really cute ones of my trip to Korea that are foldable and easy to slip into my purse. I keep one handy at all times. You can shop these instead from Bee Green.
You can also replace your ziplock bags with washable silicone bags that are convenient, reusable and completely safe. I personally like these from Naturesky.
If you step out to get coffee, remember to carry your own coffee travel thermos mug. The virus can sit on exposed plastic and metal surfaces for hours. You certainly don't want to risk using them at a coffee shop or convenient store. I purchased one from starbucks a few years ago but there are plenty available in the market like this one from Bed Bath & Beyond.
During these tough times, let's try not to make billionaires even richer. Sure we are all guilty of ordering things off of Amazon. But why not call your small mom and pop store in the neighborhood and see if they will deliver groceries to your home instead. We are already practicing social distancing physically. But that shouldn't stop you from picking up the phone and talking to another human. Support small businesses as much as you can right now. Think about shopping small and ethically. That means buying from businesses that practice sweatshop free manufacturing and using eco friendly raw materials. Be it food, fashion or household products. Build a habit to read labels, beyond just price tags and know what you are paying for.
These tips might seem a bit inconvenient since we are so used to the ease of "use and throw" items. But this pandemic is a reminder for why the old ways of taking time to do things might have been right and sustainable at so many levels. Scarcity leads to optimization and abundance leads to wastefulness. Even when we come out of Covid, these are simple practices that will go a long way and you may continue them in your daily life beyond the present.