OKAY! Blogging in the time of COVID-19 is so weird my Friends. I want to inform, but I want to be sensitive to the shit storm we are in. I want to believe that people actually read my blog. I want a creative outlet. And I want to get ideas out of my brain and in to the world.
A lot of the talk around this pandemic has been in relation to how we have mobilized so quickly to curb the spread of this virus that threatens the lives of millions of people. And yet how slow we are to act against the climate crisis which threatens all life on the planet. All of a sudden there is money for new technology, expanded employment insurance, and corporate bailouts. Governments have instructed companies to make essential equipment for healthcare workers. And the oil and gas lobby is still hard at work getting pipeline protests outlawed, rolling back environmental protections, banning reusable bags, and putting their hands out for assistance money.
But this little blog can't deal with all of that today (or ever). So this little blogger is going to look around her at things we can do now, today. (Things that we should have already been doing but.......). Actions that might even be more important now as more and more folks lose their jobs, food and sundries become harder to buy, and we have to stay inside our homes. (STAY INSIDE DAMMIT!).
So here are SEVEN money saving low waste swaps to help you now. And hopefully once you set up these systems in your home, you will see the benefit in continuing them beyond the end of the pandemic.
I put them in order of what I consider least intense to most intense. But to be honest, none of them are really that intense. You'll see!
1. SWITCH TO BAR SOAP(instead of plastic bottles). I cannot put a price on the savings of this method. Partly because I don't know the number, but mostly because I much prefer bar soap.
Level Up!Buy your bar soap from a local retailer, craft show, artisan, farm, etc. Support local while you "save the environment".
2. SWITCH TO RAGS INSTEAD OF SWIFFERS. Actually, switching to rags or cloths replaces most disposable cleaning stuff in our lives. Makeup wipes, bum wipes, paper towels. Cut up old t-shirts, buy a bag of rags from your local Canadian Tire, or use one of the 40 face cloths you inherited from your grandparents. For example.
3. MAKE YOUR OWN BROTH. Save all of your vegetable peelings in a bag in your freezer. Once you have a crock pot's worth, put them all in your crock pot (or large pot on your stove), fill pot with water, and let it simmer for a few hours. I divide mine up into 4 cup servings (one Adams peanut butter jar), which is perfect for the daal that we make every few weeks.
4. MEND YOUR CLOTHES.Mend your clothes rather than replacing them. Find yourself a good tailor, or learn to do it yourself. This goes for holes, replacing buttons, as well as size adjustments.
COVID-19 note: Most tailors are closed now, but I hear that YouTube is still open and that folks post how-to videos on there....wink wink.
5. BUY WHOLE FOODS IN BULK.And buy less processed food (and less take out). This will require that you learn to cook some basic recipes. Again, use those online resources! I have a great recipe for daal that I use bulk lentils and spics for. It is delicious and very inexpensive. Especially if you already did step #3 above. Wink wink.
COVID-19 NOTE:Most bulk retailers have changed how they do business right now or have closed completely. If you don't have access to a bulk store, buy your dry goods in the largest package available (or the largest you are able to buy).
6. BUY SECONDHAND OR BORROW. Buy secondhand, or borrow items before buying new. For me the most obvious examples are clothes and books. Edmonton has a tool library and a toy library, and I have had success with online FREE groups as well.
COVID-19 NOTE: Please wait until after the pandemic before doing this one. Unless you are borrowing e-books and audio books from your library, and then carry on.
7. LINE DRY YOUR LAUNDRY.Big appliances like dryers use so much energy. Way more than we realize. And that translates to big bucks on your energy bills. I have a pretty slick set up in my basement, which works for me because I have the space and that's where our laundry machines are. Depending on your laundry & living situation, you might have to be a bit more creative.
- Outdoor clothesline (this might require a bit more initial setup time and $, but it's 100% worth it for fresh line-dry clothing)
- Purchase a wooden or metal rack that folds away when not in use
- String up a retractable line in your shower or bath
- Explore your inner child and re-enact your fort making days by draping wet sheets or blankets on chairs in your dining room!
OVERALL COVID-19 NOTE:Right now it is more important to stay healthy, stay inside, and keep your family safe. If that means you have to put aside some low waste habits for the time being,that is 100% okay. Safety trumps all. But if you are able to start incorporating more low waste habits into your life, there is no reason not to start now.
ZERO WASTE IS EASY AND IT IS ALSO NOT EASY
A big lesson that I think is hard for a lot of people switching to low waste is tolower their standards. Which is only a hard lesson because capitalism teaches us that to have a happy and fulfilling life we must always want and buy new, shiny things.
To me, low waste is washing plastic bags and letting them hang to dry above my sink. It's bags full of vegetable scraps in my freezer. It's mismatched jars filled with dry goods. It's patched clothes, and makeup free days, and simple meals. And I know just by listening to people around me, that these things are anathema to their whole identity.
And some of them may turn to the Zero Waste movement that has sprung upwithin capitalism. If buying a cute silicon bag for your celery or a $30 paper towel replacement gets you thinking about reducing your waste, I mean, that's good, but the whole point of this post (and the Zero Waste movement) is to reduce your waste, rethink stuff you already own, and buy less stuff, whileyou save money. (And save humanity's future...or whatever).
Also, I have found that a lot of zero waste items take a bit more planning and a bit more time to do. And we as a society are always complaining about how little time we have to do anything. My dudes. I have seen how much time we spend making Tik Tok videos and sitting in our cars.We have time to spend on things that matter to us, we just have to prioritize those things.
I deleted three paragraphs I wrote about how we as a society suck overall at putting big picture needs above personal wants, and how much capitalism sucks, but this post was already getting too long. I'm sure I'll be able to flesh those out into a proper post here one of these days! Until then...
I have added a label to this post that I am only 75% comfortable with, but it's a familiar term, so I'm sticking with it. For more tips, and ideas, and chatting about "ZERO WASTE", all my posts are organized under this tag.
There are a lot of (smarter than me) people doing a lot of work around Zero Waste, Low Waste & Circular Economies. Some of my current favourites are:
Polly Barks - Zero Waste Educator
April - @Zero Waste Dork
Cindy Villasenor - @Cero Waste Cindy
Sarah Robertson-Barnes - Sustainable in the Suburbs
This has nothing to do with Zero Waste Living, but it is an amazing piece of performance art that y'all should at least watch one minute of.