Why COVID-19 Has More of Us Embracing Zero-Waste Living
Zero-waste living was certainly a thing long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the past several months have brought about an increased interest in greener lifestyle habits. Suddenly, we’re all making our own sourdough from scratch, building container gardens to grow fresh organic produce, and taking a closer look at the items we bring into our homes and the waste we create.
While the connection between a global pandemic and zero-waste living might not be obvious on a surface-level, it makes sense if you dig a little deeper—we’re realizing how we’re inter-connected with each other and the planet. The sense of solidarity most of us feel right now—wearing masks and social distancing to protect the most vulnerable members of our society—has carried over into other areas of our lives.
Here are some of the ways we’re embracing zero-waste living in response to the coronavirus.
We’re Greening Up Our Cleaning Routines
We’re all spending more time in our homes and for many of us, this also means we’re spending more time cleaning—and becoming more mindful of the products we use to clean our homes. Instead of using roll after roll of paper towels and neon-hued household cleaners, people are switching to eco-friendly cleaning options like Swedish dishcloths and Castile soap instead.
There are many factors at play in this transition to greener cleaning. We feel more connected to the environment; we’re trying to save money by wasting less on disposable cleaning products; we’re in our homes more, so we want to ensure the products we use are safe and free of harmful VOCs.
When it comes to zero-waste living, making changes to your cleaning habits is one of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of waste your household creates without significantly impacting your lifestyle. It’s easy to see why so many people are taking up a more eco-friendly cleaning routine.
We’re Thinking Harder About What We Purchase
There’s nothing like a crisis to make you reevaluate your priorities in life. With COVID-19, people are coming to the realization that it was never the things we own that make us happy, but the connections with others and the experiences we share.
The result is that we’re spending more time thinking before we make purchases. Many of us have limited budgets because of coronavirus-related business shutdowns; others simply feel disillusioned by consumerism. Whatever the reason, when you’re not bringing unneeded items into your home, you’re creating less waste.
When people are making purchases, it’s often items that are either sustainably made or products that help them live greener and more efficiently. We focus on quality over quantity and seek products that truly improve our lives instead of using material goods to tell the world who we are and what we value.
We’re Revamping What We Eat
The focus with zero-waste living is often on what you buy (or don’t buy), but food is one of the most significant sources of waste in most of our lives—we just don’t realize it because much of the waste involved occurs before our food is even on the plate.
We buy whatever strikes our fancy at the grocery store, even if it means purchasing strawberries in winter that were grown across the world. Our lunches come in boxes, shrink-wrap, and plastic trays. We participate in a food economy that has farmers dumping milk that cannot be sold and uses gallons and gallons of water to grow a handful of almonds.
The pandemic has helped reconnect many of us to local growers—and even start growing our own food in our backyards or community gardens. We’re eating seasonally, spending the time to cook our own meals, and supporting locally-owned restaurants when we can’t. Food has become a simple pleasure for many of us during the pandemic, and although it’s likely an unintended consequence, we’re reducing the amount of food waste we’re responsible for as a result.