What eco-friendly lessons have you learned from the pandemic?
By Emily Sher Illustrations by Katty Huertas
I have begun composting kitchen scraps for the garden. It has been eye-opening to say the least. So much would go into the garbage, but now it will fertilize my garden.
Being at home during the pandemic, I replaced my habit of constantly reaching in the cabinet throughout the day for a new cup to drink water, to using one, tall reusable water bottle to drink from during the day. This saved time and water from washing several cups to one bottle.
My household has switched from K-Cup Pods for our morning coffee to refillable pods. We buy the coffee grounds and fill the reusable pods. Each morning we empty the used grounds into a bowl and sprinkle the grounds in the garden beds of bushes or plants that like acidic soil.
When the pandemic first started, paper goods were hard to find. We couldn’t find paper napkins so we started using our “good” or cloth napkins for meals. It made us feel like we were in a restaurant (which we missed terribly). We’re still doing it today!
I put all my vegetables (like green onions, herbs, celery and asparagus) in reused glass jars (pickles, fruit, sauces) so they stay fresher, longer in between trips to the grocery store, especially during stay-at-home orders.
My sister and I started composting! We live in Boston and there is a bin that we bring our compost to for free. We started in September and are estimating that we have composted around 200lbs+ of food that we would have thrown in the trash! It is so much easier and cleaner than I ever thought it would be and it has become so second nature … We have also started to use (Boston’s bikeshare program) instead of Uber/other modes of transportation. First it was really our only option when Ubers weren't available, but now I choose to take a bike over Ubering/train/etc. when possible!
We politely refuse any plastic utensils for takeout. If we do get some, we reuse them as much as possible and put them in the dishwasher. We purchase food from our local deli because they use paper containers and bags.
When paper towels were hard to find and expensive I switched to using rags for kid-spill clean-up, cleaning, counter wipe-up, and it’s been amazing — so much more efficient and eco-friendly too. I have bought one thing of paper towels in three months. I even love washing them and seeing all the dirt I’ve cleaned up, etc. I’m a little weird, but it’s gratifying.
We started composting ... We started with ~2,000 worms and now, who knows how many! We love watching the worms turn our table scraps into soil we can use in our garden. We have also tried to cut plastic out of our daily lives including switching to shampoo and conditioner bars (no bottles!) and toothpaste tablets.
My family and I have moved completely away from paper towels! We purchased a dozen “un-paper towels” and reuse them each week. They’re sort of like wash cloths but thinner and more absorbent. It feels so good not to throw away so many paper towels each day and my 10-year-old loves the fact that he’s saving trees. It wasn’t a difficult adjustment at all. And it only adds about one load of laundry to our weekly laundry loads.
Picking up litter while walking outside! It’s so good to get out of the house, stretch my legs, and know I’m doing something simple that really matters. We live by the ocean so my kids and I have gotten quite into it, purchasing a net and a reach grabber. It almost feels like a game looking for garbage too!
I no longer use plastic snack bags for storing or transporting food. Since the pandemic I started cooking more ... I also try to opt for full-size bags as opposed to individually packaged single serving snack packs.