Happy Earth Week! We are living amidst a global pandemic that has quite literally shaken the foundation of modern society. No big deal. Everyone is handling quarantine differently, and we are all doing our best. But if you've been looking for a time to start your sustainability journey, I'm here to say there is no better time to start than right now.
Don't get me wrong, living sustainably during a pandemic isn't exactly the same. Bulk bins are closed to avoid cross contamination, and take-out plastic pollution has skyrocketed. But the planet is getting a much-needed break from human activity right now, we are seeing blue skies and recovering ecosystems in just a month or so. Self-isolating has forced me to think about the longer-term goals of a sustainable lifestyle, and get creative with my priorities right now.
Zero-waste or plastic-free living sounds intimidating, and starting your journey alone can seem overwhelming. But you aren't alone. There is support everywhere. The sustainability movement has gained traction, and resources are more abundant now than ever. We can all tread a little lighter on the planet, and there are tons of reasons why now is the time the take action.
1. Sustainable businesses need it!
The economic effects of the pandemic are disastrous, and sustainable businesses may not be able to recover. It takes more investment to create ethical products, and for emerging brands, those products need to be purchased to support more manufacturing. As you start thinking about purchasing zero-waste items, shop small businesses first. They need it the most, and many are having huge sales right now during Earth Week. Some of my favorites are Earth Hero, Synergy, and Threads for Thought.
2. More time at home!
With more time at home, many of us are left staring at our living space and looking for things to do, hobbies to adopt, and projects to carry out. It's the perfect time to tap into the endless sustainability resources all over the internet. This blog is one, but there are tons of others as well - podcasts, videos, books, articles, etc. Start with your favorite things first! If you love style, research fast fashion. If you love cooking, learn about ways to minimize your food waste. Sustainable living is a marathon, not a sprint. The fact that you're trying deserves a round of applause.
3. The single-use stuff is gone anyway!
It's pretty alarming that things like paper towels, disinfectants, and toilet paper are a scarcity right now. Now is the time to reconsider the way we live, and why we are so dependent on these products in the first place. You can wash and reuse towels instead of throwing paper towels away. I have one towel stack for cleaning, and one for the kitchen. I've saved over $500 since I switched. You can get recycled toilet paper, it's in less demand and better for our forests. As far as disinfectants, I make my own cleaning products in five minutes every few months. After all, the best disinfectant is soap and hot water. You're not just saving the planet, you're saving money and your home from toxic chemicals.
4. It's an election year!
It is one of the most influential elections of our time. Scientists say we have about 10 years until the damage to the planet becomes irreversible, which means we have a lot on our shoulders. Making sure our leaders in power see the value of our natural resources, and the planet that supports us all is absolutely critical to the survival of humans. We vote every day with our dollars, but our votes in local, state, and federal elections count just as much. It may be our last chance.
All of us are in different situations, and doing our best with the cards we are dealt. Leaning into the people, things, and hobbies that we love will help get us through this uncertain time. I know that's helped me the most. Sustainable living isn't hard, it's just a series of choices we make as we go about our daily lives. Each choice is a ripple. Over time, and with consistency and commitment, they become waves. So let's make them, together.