In my everyday routine I had managed to incorporate lots of eco-friendly habits and product swaps. However, the UK is now in it’s 4th week of lockdown, which means for many of us (I would say almost all) we cannot follow our usual routines, whatever these may be, as we can now only make essential trips for food, exercise or work, if you are a key worker. Altogether, I have not found it too hard to adapt to this new way of living, but, I have noticed that I am having to sacrifice a lot of my eco-friendly habits due to unavailability of products, or travel restrictions. As many of you will find yourselves in the same boat, I wanted to share my experiences so far. I believe this is important, as for those of us concerned about the environment we may begin to feel guilt over not being able to live our lives to our eco-friendly standards. To understand that we are all experiencing this, and that it is necessary at this time to sacrifice some of our eco habits in order to protect the vulnerable, is therefore imperative.
One of the first eco changes I made was going to a refill shop. The shop most local to me is not in my home town, but a 20 minute drive away. I could justify this trip in terms of CO2 by doing all my shopping here, including fruit and veg, however, now in lockdown I do not want to risk spreading anything between towns, therefore, I have opted to use the supermarket walking distance from my house. Luckily, having had some warning that a lockdown was coming, I had refilled all my essentials, so I have had enough to last the initial 3 weeks. However, as the lockdown continues and I work my way through these products it is likely that I am going to have to replaced them with goods packaged in un-recyclable plastics. In terms of cleaning products, I will opt to buy the eco-friendly versions, such as Ecover and Method, and buy these in bulk where possible to reduce plastic use. For dried foods like pasta and rice, there are very few options as they are mainly packaged in single-use plastics, but where possible I will try and buy things in carboard boxes or tins which will get recycled.
As well as the refill shop, the market that I was using for local fruit and veg, is in this town 20 minutes away. This means I am now having to buy supermarket vegetables. I try very hard to pick only UK gown and organic veg from the supermarket, but in the midst of panic buying, most recently I have had to just get what has been available, which often has involved buying products with lots of air miles. As I have mentioned before, ideally I would grow my own veg to supplement bought products, but I am not currently in a position to do this.
Furthermore, I am also using a lot more energy in the house. Being inside all day means I am having the lights on, the TV or radio on, boiling the kettle more often for cups of tea… the list goes on. This is not so bad in terms of the electricity use, as I am on a 100% renewable electricity tariff, however, I have gas heating and cooking which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This extra use of gas, may be balance out by my restricted use of the car though, as being able to make only essential trips I find I have hardly used the car.
There are some habits that I have managed to continue as normal. Such as composting, which is totally unchanged as my compost bin is in the garden, and using the milkman, as food deliveries are classed as essential. If there is one positive of this experience, it may just be the huge uptake in milk deliveries, as this will drastically reduce the plastic use of the UK. I was lucky to be in a position where these two habits were well established, as currently I would find it difficult to set up new milk deliveries, due to the surge in demand, or to get hold of a compost bin due to shops shutting.
Altogether, I don’t think I have done too bad with continuing an eco-friendly life in lockdown. I have managed to keep my plastic use low by using a milkman, and I can still compost, and although I have had to sacrifice refills and local products, I have made up for this is my reduced use of transportation. So if you are out there feeling guilty about not being able to continue your eco-friendly lifestyle, please know you are not alone, and that although we can’t be living by our ideal standards right now, there are still things we can be doing right for the environment.