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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

Remaining Sustainable during the Pandemic: It's Tough!



I've been in two minds about posting about COVID-19 here because although I've passionately been shouting my opinion into the voids of Twitter and on my Instagram stories, I didn't want to appear like I was gaining anything from discussing it. I mean, I'm not, but I didn't want others to see me as using it for page views etc. but you know what? It's damn important that we talk about what's going on right now but it's also important that we address a bit of an elephant in the room right now. That elephant is sustainability.

I've seen a few people online discussing whether or not sustainability can actually be sustainable during this crisis and it got me thinking. I know that I for one have loosened my usual ethics when it comes to consuming over the past few weeks because of the pandemic. In the UK, we've seen a huge surge in panic-buying and it has left supermarket shelves bare with no stock, online orders not being available for over 10 days, and websites having to put customers in a queuing system like they're buying gig tickets not their groceries. "The world's gone mad!" is being thrown around and amongst the hysteria, being sustainable has been forgotten about.

I'll be the first to say that I am not being my best sustainable self right now. I am buying whatever food is available and not giving a second thought to the packaging it comes in. I've had to buy products from the supermarket that I would usually order online that are more eco-friendly and/or cruelty free etc. but due to the delays in delivery times, I've had no other choice. This isn't meant to come across as a "woe is me" post but rather a comfort for those of you who are also trying to live as low waste and consciously as possible. You're not in this alone. This global pandemic is reeking havoc everywhere and you should not feel guilty for having to set aside your usual ethics during this time. Whether it's consuming some dairy right now despite your usual vegan diet or buying regular tampons because you can't get ahold of organic - you need to get what you can and if these things are a necessity to you or provide some form of comfort/security, and that's okay. Don't attach guilt to them. Guilt is not welcomed here.

With all that being said, there's some small things you can do to keep your sustainable self afloat throughout this pandemic whilst you're social distancing or isolating. Of course there are bigger things to worry about but, hopefully this post will give you some food for thought and again, bring you some comfort. I know a lot of people - myself included - are struggling with the change in their day-to-day life and knowing that it has become more restricted, so this is a way for me to keep a handle and form of control over what I can. It gives me a sense of normality during a very abnormal time:



COVID-19 Mutual Aid
COVID-19 Mutual Aid is for volunteers who want to help those most in need during this time. The outbreak of this virus has given many of us a glimpse into what it is like to truly be a marginalised member of society. For me, it has made me appreciate more so why individuals may not show concern for the planet because poverty means it can't even be on your radar. If you're financially strained due to loss of work, you're not going to be buying the eco-friendly options which tend to be a bit pricier. You're not going to be rejecting certain foods based on their packaging when just knowing you will have a meal is good enough.

With that being said, use this time to appreciate what you have, what you've had up until now, and what others might need. If you can help as a volunteer, that's great! Check what neighbours might need, friends, family, and please let someone else know if you're in need too! Donate to charities which are helping and be available for others if you can be.

Support independent business
Supporting people on an individual ground-level basis is great but, so many small and independent businesses are going to struggle in the coming weeks and months. If you need to buy anything - whether it's food, homeware, a birthday present - please consider shopping small and independent.

Check if local farm shops are doing online deliveries and get your groceries from there. Check if your local independent cafes are doing the same. If you're worried about things not turning up in time for a special event or if you're worried about contact with delivery drivers/the postman or don't want to give them more deliveries to do, you can always see if the brand have a gift card option. This means you can support them with your dollar now and reap the benefits for yourself later. Get a gift card for your favourite local restaurant. Get one for your mum's birthday from a nice handmade skincare company. Buy your friend's new baby a gift card for nursery decor or baby essentials.

Consume "stuff" consciously
During our isolation, no one should feel pressured to be productive or start the 578 pastimes they'd like to try but, what you can do is access all the good things we have available to us. Things such as eBooks on Audible, or watching shit tons of Netflix shows, or listening to those albums you've been meaning to get through... Those who work in the entertainment industry have been hit hard during this pandemic so instead of buying needless things such as clothing or makeup during this time, think about buying a band's album or an audio book - you're helping those who need a lift in their income right now whilst also not accumulating more physical stuff (necessarily).

Challenge ecofascism
Some social media accounts and individuals have been celebrating environmental changes which have occurred in the wake of this outbreak of coronavirus and rightly so, it has left a sour taste in a lot of people's mouths. Whilst these changes may be positive, it's important to remember that this virus is claiming a lot of people's lives and any celebration of the "side effects" of that is not okay. Hopefully these environmental changes will make big corporations and businesses realise the impact they are having on the planet but that's all we can (and should) hope for.



Meal prep
Although we might be having to buy whatever is available at the moment, making sure you actually use everything you buy can help you be more sustainable during your isolation. If there's lots of fresh fruit or veg available when you go to do a restock of your cupboards, don't be put off by them being perishable items. Using fresh veg to make an abundance of soup that can be kept in the freezer is a safe bet. Roast lots of veggies and again, pop them in the freezer until they're needed.

If you need recipe recommendations or inspiration, Jack Monroe is using her Twitter hashtag #JackMonroesLockdownLarder and you can tweet any food you have lying around and Jack will give you some ideas of what to do with it!

Stock-take your pantry
Sticking with food as it's become a major concern for many during the pandemic: stock-take your own cupboards and fridge to see what you're missing. This was something that I saw Jack Monroe tweet about and I think it's excellent advice, particularly if you're trying to be as sustainable as possible. We all know that panic buying is contagious and we could all be victims to buying things "just because" so by stock-taking what you have, you can properly work out what you're lacking or what you may need to make a full meal.

Jack's advice is to fold a piece of A4 into 4s and have: Carbs, Fruit & Veg, Protein, and Flavours as your sections so you can see if you really need certain products and also so you can work out how many meals you may have over the next few days without buying more. This will ultimately help you get the most out of what you have and stop food waste.

Re-purpose whilst you're home
Do you have things lying around that are no longer serving their purpose? Do you have socks with holes in them, skincare tubs that are destined for recycling, food waste that could be actually be put to good use? Those socks could be used as dusting cloths around the house. Those tubs could be used to store things like half a lemon in the fridge or a DIY face mask that you've made. That food waste could put in a container to break down to then be used in the garden as a compost aid. Whilst we may be stuck inside the box, we have a little more time to think outside of it!

Re-wear your clothes!
Although I'm someone who likes to shower everyday, I will re-wear clothing until it doesn't feel clean to. This is going to save you money on your energy bill and also is helping you be just a little more sustainable. It will also increase the longevity in your clothing in the long run as items won't lose their shape or pill/bobble as much. If you're comfortable with not showering everyday too - absolutely go for it! Again, save energy and also money by not using up your products as quickly.

Make a list of the sustainable changes you'd like to make in future
Planning for when this is all over can be a nice escape for some. If you're one of those people, maybe make a list of some things you'd like to change going forward. Maybe you'd like to use more "naked" packaging free products. Maybe you'd like to start shopping exclusively secondhand for fashion. Maybe you'd like to try a vegan diet. Feeling positive about your future and things you want to do to feel more sustainable is absolutely a step in the right direction right now.


The best thing to remember is this should be temporary. Any changes you've had to make to your usual ethics and lifestyle can be changed back once we're out the other side of this. Please look after yourselves whereever you are, listen and follow guidelines and protocol, and maybe we'll be out the other side of this in time for summer.


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1 comment

ACupofWonderland said...

Love this post, it's really reassuring to read because of people panic buying it has led to me and my family buying what we can and being less conscious. Today we are actually doing a stock take of everything we have in and meal planning so we know when we absolutely have to go to the shop for more. I think it's also made us challenge how we eat and see food too and just buying what we will actually eat too.

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