Whew, y’all. With the current worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, life has been hectic and rapidly changing lately! For those of you in less impacted areas or who work in “essential” job functions, your day-to-day lives may look about the same as they always do. For those of us in more impacted areas with stay-at-home orders that impact our normal daily routines, life has changed significantly. And for those who have lost jobs, are working to care for COVID-19 patients, or have become ill with the novel coronavirus, life has been altered dramatically and drastically.
My own daily routine has been disrupted pretty significantly under a mandatory stay-at-home order, though I am quite grateful to still have a job that I am now (mostly) able to do from home.
Being at home more has given me free time, including more time to just think and be. One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot is sustainability as it relates to the current coronavirus pandemic. It’s something that has given me some feelings of guilt, and I want to share what’s been on my heart as a way to process and also connect with others who may be feeling the same way!
In some ways, I feel like my carbon footprint has gone down thanks to this pandemic. The only place I’m driving is to the grocery store, so I’m not buying and using much gasoline. Less air pollution is definitely a win!
However, in a lot of other ways, I feel like this pandemic has caused sustainable practices to fly right out the window. I’m washing my hands more and using more water. I’m using antibacterial hand sanitizer that contains chemicals that probably aren’t the greatest for me or the environment. I’m using disinfecting wipes and gloves and the occasional mask, all of which produce waste. And I’ve stopped taking my reusable bags to the grocery store, which means single use plastic bags for produce and disposable paper bags to bag everything up at the end.
I think the waste is the part I feel most guilty about. I have focused a lot on reducing our household waste in the last few years, and I feel like I’m taking giant steps backward.
I keep reminding myself that this is only temporary. Hopefully in a few months, the time will come when I don’t have to immediately dispose of grocery bags after unpacking my groceries, and I will feel safe taking my reusable bags to the store again.
For anyone else struggling with feelings of guilt about not-so-sustainable habits during the current coronavirus pandemic, I just want to say: You’re not alone. I think we need to give ourselves some grace during this time. Ultimately, we’re all just trying to do the best we can, balancing our concern for the earth with very real public health concerns. We will be able to get back to our sustainable habits soon.
It might also be helpful to focus on ways in which we CAN be more sustainable right now. For those of us who have more down time than normal right now, maybe we can intentionally use some of that time to look for ways to make eco-friendly changes to our daily lives. Maybe we can research some sustainable swaps and then implement a few (such as making the switch to eco-friendly dog supplies or eco-friendly cleaning supplies). Maybe we consume less stuff, which is always good for the environment. Maybe we switch off the electronics and choose an analog activity instead, decreasing our energy use. Maybe we plant some plants that will help purify our air! There are so many ways we can still have a positive impact on our earth right now.
I would love to hear from y’all: Do you think your daily life has become more sustainable or less sustainable during the current COVID-19 outbreak? What ideas do you have for ways we can be intentional about keeping sustainability a focus during this time?