Less-Waste Living in the Time of Corona

In some ways, it feels ironic to me that Hannah and I started this site during the Covid crisis, because my living habits have changed a bit since we all began staying home. We all saw that our collective quarantine provided the Earth with a small reprieve as our cars sat idle. (Beautiful pictures of China’s clean air and dolphins in the Venice canals.) But we also adapted our routines to protect our health and made some other climate-related sacrifices instead. That is true for my family, as well.

The CO-OP curbside process is so easy and they’ve made some real less-waste strides since Covid started. I also love the compostable produce bags and attention to plastic-free packaging. They will also sell you products from the bulk-section (like laundry detergent) if you pay a little extra for a ball jar (which you’ll reuse anyway)

I haven’t stepped foot into a traditional supermarket like Hannaford since March. We’ve all made our personal trades (I’ll take this choice but not that one, in order to stave off Covid) and in-person food shopping was one for me. Save for my favorite farmstand (it’s usually just the owner and me in our masks), I do all of my weekly shopping via curbside places like Walmart. I have a lot of mixed feelings about shopping at Walmart, not to mention all of the plastic bags I accrue. I save and reuse these plastic bags, but it still feels hypocritical. On the other hand, I never let my car idle, and have started buying most of our produce, dairy and meat from local sources (the meat via Brookford is wonderful and I love my Contoocook creamery glass bottles). CO-OP curbside has gotten increasingly better about using boxes (rather than plastic bags) for packing my order, and I’ve been investing in the Earth by focusing on quality food that’s better for the environment. So more plastic bags, but less pesticides and carbon footprinting. Is that a win?

Cars. As mentioned, my car sat in the garage for a few months while my family traveled nowhere. Then school started for my children in the fall and I went from never driving to using my car a lot more than I did pre-Covid. Our family decided to eschew the bus but let our kids attend in person (again, I’ll make this trade for that one) and my husband and I chauffeured them. I started blowing through gas, racking-up the miles and feeling terrible. All of that Spring pollution reprieve was undone. But now my kids are remote again, and my car is back to being ignored. Plus, how many nature walks have you gone on during this time? Too many to count? Me too. We used to drive into Boston or a play place but now we venture into our local woods a lot more, and it’s been wonderful for us. So maybe a toss-up?

We’ve gotten to know these woods well. I used to be afraid to venture out with my girls without a seasoned Grantite-stater, but have gotten much more comfortable. I’d call that a win!

I also used to thrift a lot more, in order to find pre-loved items that I needed but didn’t want to purchase new. However since I now go nowhere and/or purchase via curbside (thank you, Gibson’s!), I’ve been doing a lot more online shopping. The packaging! The shipping! I try to focus on used goods via Kidizen, Thred-Up and eBay, and reuse the cardboard etc as much as possible. (Did you know that you can compost cardboard? Great brown matter material.) But I’m not impervious to a good sale (I’m only human) and sometimes you do need something the next day via Amazon. Again, there’s a lot of guilt here, but I try to be mindful and give back to the community as much as possible. That new sweater is taking the place of an older one, and I have a whole stack of nice clothes ready to be sent to Lilise.

So what’s the point of this post? I guess I’m trying to say that this time is hard, but also temporary, and I can choose to focus on my guilt or turn my attention to strides I’ve made instead (local meat! organic produce! driving a lot less!). I also remember that this lifestyle and movement is a process (a marathon and not a sprint, if you will). Try your best for now, focus on what you can do, and have some goals ready for when we’re in the post-Covid era (mine is budgeting for a hybrid or electic car). Have you been feeling similarly? Stay safe, Rachel

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