How to be sustainable in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak

By Callie Fausey


Even while working from home, we can still be environmentally friendly, and, in turn, save some money as well! Being cooped up at home has recently made me reflect on how I incorporate sustainable practices into my daily routine, and where I can improve.

I’ve noticed that I use a lot of disposable products like napkins and paper towels, and it creates a lot of waste. In addition to that, using up more energy is practically inevitable when stuck in your house. My daily recreational activities, which consist mostly of watching movies on Netflix and playing video games in my free time, equate to a good amount of energy usage (and increased bills). So how can we cut down on waste, save energy, and be more sustainable overall during this crisis?

Thankfully, there are many easy ways to start being more sustainable while you shelter in place. Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks: 

  • Replace Disposables! Instead of using up napkins and paper towels, I have made a goal for myself to rely on reusable, cloth hand and dish towels. Wherever possible, reflect on what you can replace with reusable alternatives!

  • Cut Down On Usage! The Global Stewards suggest observing an “Eco-Sabbath”: For one day, afternoon or hour a week, don’t buy anything, don’t use machines, don’t switch on anything electric, don’t cook, don’t answer your phone and, in general, don’t use any resources. Maybe pick up a book you’ve been neglecting, or do some basic organizing around the house!

  • Unplug and Power Down! Unplug your computer and phone chargers, microwave, and any appliances not in use; fully power down TV’s, cable boxes, and video game consoles; and use low power on your computer. These devices continue to draw energy even when not in active use. 

  • Make Your Own Products! For example, the CDC released instructions on how to make your own face masks! You can also recycle old products to create new ones. Unleash your creativity!

  • Buy Only What You Need! This includes cleaning products, food, etc. One relevant example is buying only the amount of toilet paper you will need for a few weeks at a time. Not only will this reduce waste, but it is also a courteous way to keep others’ needs in mind!

  • Start A Garden! Now might be the best time, if you have the necessary space and resources, to begin a garden at home! If you have a yard, you can research what native plants grow in your area. This also gives you a great reason to compost

  • Avoid Creating Trash! For example, when having food delivered, avoid receiving any unnecessary products like plastic utensils, straws, etc. Recycle when possible. 

  • Change Your Washing Habits! CALPIRG suggests that for washing dishes and clothes, wait to run a load until the washer is completely full. Wash your clothes in cold water and then line-dry or rack dry your clothing to skip a drying cycle. When washing dishes in a dishwasher, skip the “heated dry” and simply open the door at the end of washing. Your dishes will air-dry. 


These are just some ways you can practice sustainability at home. 

 Have other tips? If so, comment below or email me at [email protected].