There are many benefits that come with creating a more sustainable home. From increased savings to a better lifestyle, here are its notable advantages.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, governments worldwide have imposed safety measures and strict lockdowns across cities to contain the spread of the virus. With restricted movement and limited public transportation, more and more people were forced to look for alternatives to hold their basic needs and necessary home supplies.
With this, the world has seen a drastic rise in the consumption of single-use items such as masks, plastic utensils, disposable gloves, and other non-biodegradable waste.
While it is very challenging to shift to a zero-waste lifestyle and have a completely green home overnight, taking small steps toward sustainability and creating a more eco-friendly home comes a long way.
Read on to find out how you can make the shift to a more eco-friendly household even during the pandemic.
- Invest in reusable items
The pandemic has contributed significantly to the growing waste across the globe as people were forced to regularly wear additional protection such as masks, face shields, and personal protective equipment (PPEs), which are mostly made from non-biodegradable materials. For this, it is essential to invest in an eco-friendly mask and washable PPEs that you can wear and reuse multiple times.
In addition, with more people staying indoors to avoid catching the virus, people tend to order in and consume more goods at home, adding to their waste. If this is unavoidable, make sure to skip plastic utensils. If you are into cold beverages like coffee, smoothies, and milk tea, use a reusable straw or ditch it completely if you can.
When it comes to going for a grocery run, don’t forget to bring your reusable tote bags to avoid having to opt for paper bags or plastic bags. Plus, check out other eco-friendly alternatives to your typical toiletries, such as reusable cotton pads, biodegradable toothbrushes, and zero-waste toothpaste and shampoo bars.
- Buy goods in bulk
Many are aware that buying in bulk typically means getting huge savings—since shops offer lower prices per unit when you buy larger quantities of the same product. But apart from the economic benefits of bulk buying, it also encourages consumers to go green and help contribute to saving the planet.
Buying goods in bulk usually requires consumers to bring their own containers or have their goods packaged in paper bags or recyclable alternatives. This allows consumers to reduce packaging waste compared to choosing individually packed items, which are mostly packaged in plastic wrappers that mostly end up in landfills; some even end up polluting the ocean.
Some household items to consider buying in bulk include cleaning supplies, toiletries, office supplies, and food items that don’t spoil easily, such as oatmeal, coffee, rice, pasta, and dried herbs and spices.
On top of that, you can save up on transport expenses and at the same time reduce your carbon emissions since you’ll have to go for grocery runs less often than you used to.
- Support sustainable brands
According to Harvard Business Review, their study shows an intention-action gap in creating green initiatives. In one of the surveys they conducted in the past, the majority of the respondents (65%) said they would like to support businesses that advocate for sustainability, but only a few (26%) made the shift by following through and actually buying from eco-friendly, sustainable brands.
With the pandemic forcing businesses to strengthen their online presence, it has become easier than ever for customers to learn more about their initiatives and make smarter choices by purchasing everyday products that are kinder to the environment, including apparel, cosmetics, and household necessities. Join the movement by making sure you do your research and help sustainable businesses and companies make a difference by showing them your support.
While some brands’ core business is to provide green products and services, it is also essential to acknowledge and support businesses that reduce their carbon footprint. Look for brands that use more sustainable materials in their packaging, utilize greener shipping solutions, maximize energy efficiency in their operations, and reduce emissions from manufacturing and other regular operations.
- Ditch single-use plastics (or reuse them)
With the pandemic, more people opt to order in to protect themselves and their families from catching the virus. Although, when you do end up having food delivered, choose to use your own utensils at home instead of requesting plastic cutlery from the restaurant. This way, you can help reduce plastic waste.
If the restaurant still puts plastic utensils with your takeaway, make sure to keep them for next time and reuse them when you host occasions or go out for a trip.
As an alternative to ordering in, if you have extra time in your hands, it might be an excellent opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen and hone your cooking skills during the lockdown. This way, you can cut down your disposable waste while eating healthier.
- Recycle electronic waste
Most institutions, including schools, banks, government agencies, and businesses, have all gone virtual due to the impact of pandemic. With that, people suddenly have to rely on their electronic devices even more than in previous years and, as a result, wear them out even quicker.
If you’ve worn out your computer, mobile phone, tablet, or laptop and require a new device, remember not to toss your old one in the trash. That adds to the sheer volume of e-waste in landfills, but it will also pose an environmental threat as it has components like mercury and lead, among other harmful elements proven toxic to the environment.
If you’re thinking of discarding any of your old electronic devices, make sure to recycle them via your local e-waste recycling centers. You can also check out your local shops. Many electronic dealers and retailers are now open to taking your worn-out devices off your hands.
- Reduce energy use
There is a full range of ways to increase energy efficiency as people continue to work from home during the lockdown while boosting savings and saving the planet—from ditching old habits to investing in energy-saving home improvements.
Some more common and simple ways to conserve energy at home include:
- Choosing the right light. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient, longer-lasting bulbs such as light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs). This way, you will change your bulbs less often, you will typically consume anywhere from 25 to 80 percent less electricity as well.
- Always switch off unnecessary lights. During the day, instead of relying on your light bulbs, it helps to simply keep your curtains open and let as much natural light into your home.
- Unplug your devices. Remove chargers and electronics, including TV, printer, computer, mobile phones, and microwave oven, from the plug when they’re not in use. When left plugged in, they can still use small yet collectively significant amounts of energy.
- Switch to more energy-saving appliances. If you’re looking to upgrade some of your home appliances, consider checking out items that use energy efficiently. Keep an eye on energy guide labels to compare products and see how much energy they consume.
- Regularly check your air conditioning units and replace air filters when necessary. This will significantly improve indoor air quality at home, but it also uses up less energy compared to when using old, dirty filters.
- Invest in solar panels and solar-powered devices
To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, especially in the early months of the pandemic, governments across the globe implemented shutdowns and lockdowns. As the movement was restricted and non-essential workers were compelled to stay home, people saw less pollution and clearer skies.
In turn, the pandemic has led to a greater focus on accelerating the world’s transition from non-renewable energy sources to greener, more resilient energy alternatives, such as solar energy.
Fortunately, solar panel technology these days is becoming more accessible as more and more people are making the shift. While installation may still be quite costly compared to non-renewable alternatives, solar panels will not only allow you to create an eco-friendly home but also enable you to save up in the long run—and it will likely pay itself before you know it.
If you can’t rely solely on solar panels for your entire house, you can ease into it and opt to start small. Today, you can find solar-powered alternatives to almost all home electronic gadgets you could think of—outdoor lights and lamps, portable phone chargers, rechargeable fans, Bluetooth speakers, and wireless keyboards, to name a few.
Investing in these small solar-powered alternatives can go a long way in going the extra mile and making your home more sustainable.
Wrapping It Up
Remember to be patient as you build a more sustainable, eco-friendly home. These shifts and lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight, as they take more than just flipping a light switch. The important part is you’re taking a step toward leading a more environmentally-friendly home.
These times can be challenging, but this can also be an opportunity to adopt better, greener habits at home and positively impact the environment moving forward. Every little thing counts, so don’t forget to urge your friends, family, and community to do the same.