SUSTAINABLE FOR LIFE:
TEN THINGS I'M DOING TO HELP THE PLANET DURING QUARANTINE
Hello from Los Angeles (where right now the air is cleaner than it’s been in over 100 years!). Everything’s changed so quickly. In addition to trying to figure out the future of Rewilder in this uncertain time, I’ve become a teacher, a chef, a gardener, and more. It’s a stressful time (special thanks to those on the front lines – medical, social, grocery workers, and love to those that are sick and struggling), but I am also seeing so much positive change, especially right here at home where every little bit counts. Here’s 10 things we’re doing at home right now to help the planet.
CUT DOWN ON COW'S MILK; SWITCH TO PLANT BASED MILK.
This has been a struggle in my family for years, where I’ve been bringing home plant based milk that my kids won’t even try, or on first taste they immediately sour face and ewwwww. At the start of the quarantine, I told them that the grocery is out of cow’s milk, and brought home soy, oat and cashew milk alternatives for taste testing. They were receptive in a whole new way, and we’ve started having more serious conversations about the environmental benefits of making this switch for good. I’m still saying that cow’s milk is unavailable (sorry kids!), and we have significantly cut back on our milk intake in general.
We are getting started on a proper outdoor compost bin next week, helped along by my dear friend and urban farmer Ben of 3R Garden Design. In the past, we’ve put our fruits and vegetable scraps in the Green Garbage bin (the bin is vegan), but I’m ready for something bigger and better (if you’re scared, compost is NOT SMELLY and so easy. We had a big one at our last house). If you don’t have the space or desire to build your own compost bin, there are a few rad options on the market to buy, or this countertop electric one that eco-warrior Trissy Kay loves. Also, check out this article in the LA Times on composting. I also found this extremely comprehensive guide on composting.
DON'T BUY VEGGIES IN PLASTIC; DON'T PUT VEGGIES IN PLASTIC.
When you go to the store, choose veggies that are NOT pre-packaged in plastic containers (ahem, Trader Joes can you please stop this!), and don’t use plastic bags from the store to hold your veggies. Now that I’m constantly evaluating germs on everything entering the house, it makes even more sense since those plastic containers hold germs longer than raw veggies that I spray with vinegar and wash thoroughly. You can make your own produce bags, or invest in a set of chic mesh bags, or just throw the veggies right in the cart to wash at home (like I do).
PLANT FOOD IN YOUR YARD OR PARKWAY.
We planted peas, spinach and squash so far, using seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange (I also give these seeds as birthday / baby / anytime gifts). We grow artichokes, avocados and tons of herbs already. In Los Angeles, thanks to Ron Finley, you can plant your parkway. Thanks to Fallen Fruit, there’s a map of public fruit trees. We should all be growing food here, and now’s a great time to start. My kids are literally measuring the seedlings every day to see them grow (aka science class). If you have a gardener that needs work, ask them to install and maintain garden boxes, or plant the whole front yard and share what you grow with your neighbors. There’s SO MUCH GOODNESS here.
If you want to start growing smaller, you can learn to regrow your kitchen scraps. This is a super fun thing to do with kids, and saves you money!
DITCH PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES FOR GOOD.
Get used to filling and carrying a water bottle with you around the house. We’re supposed to be drinking loads of water right now, and Los Angeles tap water is safe to drink! What? Los Angeles tap water is delicious and free! This is the time to make new water habits, and get used to that water bottle all the time.
SWITCH TO CLOTH NAPKINS; GET RID OF PAPER TOWELS.
In addition to my Grandma Lucy’s green and white polka dot cloth napkins that come out for fancy meals, we recently converted some old sheets and towels into napkins and rags. Or buy a set of sustainable napkins that you love, and support a local maker like the incredibly beautiful Willowship.
SWITCH TO RECYCLED, PLASTIC FREE TOILET PAPER.
I have to admit I was ahead of the curve on this one, thus avoiding the recent toilet paper frenzy (and even gifting TP to friends in need!). A few months ago, I signed up for Who Gives a Crap recycled, plastic free toilet paper, which I LOVE. It delivers to my door wrapped in fun paper that we re-use for wrapping and collage. It’s been an adjustment for my husband cause it’s not as soft as (insert fancy super quilted toilet paper here), but so much better for the planet.
RETHINK YOUR CONSUMPTION HABITS, AND TALK ABOUT IT WITH YOUR FAMILY.
We have been eating dinner every night as a family, and I’ve taken the opportunity to ask my kids questions – what are things that you like about this time? What are things that you realize you don’t need? Do you feel differently about buying things? What does it feel like to not be able to get everything you want right away? We are talking about changes in our own lives, and how that relates to the world in general – the people, the city, the Earth. I’d love to hear what you’re talking about with your family too!
WASH CLOTHES AND DISHES WHEN THEY ARE ACTUALLY DIRTY, INSTEAD OF AFTER ONE USE.
This is BIG for us right now, with laundry and dishes (cooking three meals a day is no joke!) piling up. Water glasses get a quick rinse and sit on the counter to dry. Shirts get worn three times (unless you’ve jumped in a muddy puddle). Our old habit of throwing clothes from the floor to the laundry bin because it’s convenient is done!
The last one is still on my to-do-list; something I’ve been wanting to try for a while but haven’t had the time:
MAKE YOUR OWN VERSIONS OF PRODUCTS YOU'D TYPICALLY BUY IN PLASTIC.
I’m going to use Kathryn’s recipe to start, and I’ll let you know how it goes next week. Going Zero Waste is a good place to jump from here for so much good info on living zero waste. A truly amazing resource.
I’d love to hear from you. What’s life like these days? Are you finding it easier to make sustainable changes at home? What do your kids think?
Please be safe and healthy!
PS – Bonus #11: Join in Greenpeace's virtual community calls. They are inspiring and action-oriented. And please share other eco things that you’re doing so I can try them out and spread the word.