Looking for positives during this pandemic is a difficult ask. But it’s also important as a way of keeping our collective spirits up, so with that in mind - Congratulations! You are already living a more environmentally-friendly, sustainable life in lockdown; You’re driving much less, you’re not eating out as much and you’re almost certainly not flying. In this post, we look at some of the things you can to help yourself, the environment (and save money) during lockdown.
1) Sustainable eating. Try to reduce your meat consumption and if that’s hard, reduce your red meat consumption. Eek out the meat you eat, save the fat from sausages and cook your onions for your pasta sauce in it, make stock from chicken bones and prepare vegetable risotto. Eat seasonal, local and low packaging vegetables. The easiest way to do this is to get a veg box. Focus on reducing waste – plan your meals, possibly around what’s in the veg box, and build it from there.
2) Reduce your food waste. Experiment with some waste free ideas like cooking your potato peelings into crisps, using old bread to make breadcrumbs, croutons and revival bread, keeping onion skins, carrot ends and old celery sticks to make stock. You can even make meringues from aquafaba, the liquid you get from a tin of chickpeas. It’s also a great time to see what you have in the cupboard, check the use by dates and use up anything that might need eating.
3) Upcycle your recycling. Use your clean empty jars. Use them as tupperware, as vases, as storage containers, use them as takeaway cups! Use your plastic containers as seedling planters. Freeze stock in your milk bottles. Drinking more? Salve your conscience by making a cork board.
4) Do more growing. I’ve planted some sprouting potatoes in a tub, I’ve got seedlings from seed packets I found in the cupboard, all planted in containers that were heading for the kitchen recycling - and are sitting on the windowsill. I’m hoping to eat what we grow this year but anything we manage will reduce our carbon footprint. We also have five avocado stones in jars, each with our name on, to see if any of them will sprout and get to be planted.
5) Wash your clothes in a more sustainable way. Turn the temperature down a further ten degrees on your normal wash, I’m down to 20 degrees now and have not noticed any difference. Hang the washing outside, it's not only energy saving but it’s kinder on your clothes. Sunlight helps to bleach and disinfect clothes, something we’re all aware of at the moment. It’s also an active job around the house, while we aren’t out and about all the time, the least we can do is get a bit more active doing our chores about the house. If you have a lot of sports clothes or synthetic materials wash them on a short wash to reduce the microfibres getting into the ocean.
6) Spring Clean! It really is Spring and we are all at home so take some time to turn out the cupboards. I have done this and found some lost treasure, put some stuff aside to get rid of later and put some stuff on local websites to be donated. You may no longer need that stuff but someone else might; I can’t tell you how pleased it made me to donate a bag of play sand, a child’s spade and a pristine paddling pool to a lady in lockdown with two toddlers. Investigate natural cleaning products, saving you a painful trip to the shops and doing the job efficiently, cheaply and responsibly. For more information I found this post helpful.
7) Save water. There’s lots of info on how and why to save water from Thames Water here. But saving water is good for the planet and good for your wallet. Opt for a shower over a bath which takes three times the water of a shower. Many of the water companies offer water saving products to reduce your water usage in the home, we recently got an insert called a Save a Flush which goes in the cistern and saves up to a litre a flush, this could save you £19 a year. Wash veg in the sink with the plug in. Time your showers. Install a water butt (I’ve just bought mine, it’s made from recycled plastic and I’m quite excited about it arriving!). Here's a selection from waterbuttsdirect.co.uk
8) Save energy. You might be using more under lockdown, see if you can assess how much you are using and work out if there’s anywhere you can use less. Clean the back of the fridge so it works most efficiently. Turn the lights off. Turn down the heating. Switch to a renewable. It’s one of the most important things you can do. And the great thing is you are at home so you have access to the meters. We use Bulb. They handle the whole switching process for you and they don’t lock you in so if their prices go up you can always swap.
If you want to use our link here it is: Switch to Bulb
9) Get communal. Everyone is talking about community spirit and it’s so lovely to see people pulling together to help others in isolation. The WhatsApp group on my road has been getting large orders of compost, manure and bread flour and asking who wants it, meaning there’s only one delivery instead of many.
10) Spend smart. Avoid buying new things. But if you really need whatever it is now is the perfect excuse to ask your local neighbourhood if anyone has a hedge trimmer, lawnmower, weighing scales, headphones, drum kit, (you name it) that you can buy, borrow or have. Use apps such as Olio or Nextdoor. And if you do need to buy it see if there’s a second hand option on ebay or facebook local.
11) Shop your wardrobe. The most sustainable item of clothing is the piece you already own. Use your time at home to review your wardrobe, see what you still like, what you can fix and what you might sell or donate. Try your clothes in different combinations. Layer them. Swap with your family or housemates. And if you crave something different, try ebay, Oxfam Online or depop.
Everyone is having a different experience during lockdown, so only do what you can. I’m enjoying my daily walk, the Spring flowers, the cleaner air and the stars at night.
Stay safe & healthy :)