Worldwide lockdowns have had a positive effect on the global carbon footprint, some cities have seen an immediate and drastic decrease in pollution. Workers are forgoing the daily commute and working from home, industries are producing less emissions whilst economies are paused and once traffic-jammed roads are silent. Many of us are staying in our homes, working, socializing and shopping from the safety of our living rooms and this has had a positive effect on the environment. However, when so much is out of our control at the moment it may seem difficult to stay eco-friendly inside the home as frankly our minds are on other matters.
In some cases, it may be trickier to purchase environmentally friendly products as many shops are closed or struggle to meet demand, we are spending more time in our homes so our consumption of energy will increase and we may need to take more trips out to gather essential supplies. There are many simple changes that can be undertaken to keep an eco-friendly household whilst in isolation. Many may be struggling financially from the loss of work or temporary suspension of employment and in some ways remaining conscious of waste and the household’s carbon footprint may be another advantageous way of keeping costs down.
It may be tempting to stock up, panic buy or even focus on what you don’t have whilst in lockdown and venture out to keep your cupboards full. Instead, find new recipes to use up old cans and ingredients. It can be a fun way to use up goods, waste less and spend less money. Instead of purchasing microwave meals, enhance your cooking skills by cooking meals from scratch. Not only is this healthier for you and a fun way to pass the time, you may find you are throwing away less packaging from ‘boxed’ or microwavable goods. Simply cooking from scratch more may reduce your household’s plastic and paper waste quite drastically.
If you have a green thumb, you may find this is the time to pursue that vegetable patch you always wanted. It is a great way to keep occupied and get outside for a time. Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a long-term investment, that will both save you money on future groceries and reduce your contribution to landfill. Composting will also come in handy when it comes to growing veg and is a practical and environmentally friendly way of disposing of organic waste.
Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is taking the opportunity to reduce your meat intake. With more time to cook, it could be the perfect time for you to experiment with and try vegetarian options and make more of your dinners ‘meat-free’. The livestock sector has a devastating impact on the environment, from the emissions it produces to the deforestation needed for animals to graze. ‘Cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by two-thirds, according to the Oxford study, published in the journal Science’ the BBC reported.
Although we are all having to spend more time inside the home, it may be prudent to try and preserve energy where possible. This means being vigilant in turning lights off, not leaving the TV on standby and even making small adjustments such as covering a boiling pot with a lid to use less energy. Be aware of the energy you are consuming, turn your laptop off during the evening, do not keep your phone on charge all day and turn off appliances when not in use. Wash your clothes on colder cycles and take opportunities to air dry when possible.
You can also cut down on water waste by limiting your time in the shower to 10 minutes. Wash dishes by hand instead of in the dishwasher and do not leave taps running whilst brushing your teeth.
When you need to visit the shops for essentials, if it is possible, could you walk instead of taking the car? It may be a great opportunity for some gentle exercise and to take some time outside.
Re-cycle and Re-use
Where possible, still try to recycle waste and when you have to purchase new foods it may be possible to opt for goods that come in recyclable packaging. If you are having a clear out, instead of throwing goods to landfill, consider putting a box aside to donate when it is next possible.
Whilst in lockdown you may want to purchase new products to keep yourself and your family entertained. However, are there any board games in the back of your cupboard you can dig out? Or projects you can pursue with products that you already have in the home.