School’s out but class is still in session. There are always lessons to be learned whether we’re in school or not. It’s time to use the knowledge from the past as power for the future – knowledge is power. For those who actually do have classes in the Spring/Summer semester, I’ll be right there with you – we’ll get that bread together.

Although the lockdown has kept us all inside, it may seem like we’re not producing any waste or that the issues surrounding sustainability have vanished. Nope. If anything, this is an important time as any to act on developing better sustainability habits.

3 Things to Keep in Mind:

  1. Pre-COVID Lockdown: What did we do?
  2. COVID Lockdown: What can I do?
  3. Post-COVID Lockdown: What will I do?

What I Did Pre-COVID:

Take note of what you did Pre-COVID Lockdown. What were your habits? To name a few of mine, I purchased takeout meals often, took public transportation everyday, and would switch on most of the lights in my house once I got home. There’s nothing wrong with living a comfortable life while eating and doing the things you enjoy, but with everything in life, they should come in moderation.

small brown cardboard box with handle

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

What I Should’ve Done Pre-COVID:

When looking for takeout meals, I will try and reduce the amount of waste I produce by not taking plastic forks and spoons but instead substituting for regular utensils. Taking public transit is great – along with carpooling. Do whatever you can to reduce carbon emissions – if possible, walk to work or ride your bike to work (BTW: Toronto has an expansive bike share network in place). As for energy usage, only turn on the lights or electronics that you are using immediately to conserve as much electricity as possible. It’ll help out with the bills too.

TIP: Transition towards using LED bulbs instead of other ones (incandescent, fluorescent, etc.) as LED bulbs are proven to be more energy efficient and serve for a longer life span. This will reduce energy usage as well as lower the waste created from additional bulbs.

During COVID Lockdown:

This will sound like a major first world problem and to be honest it shouldn’t be a problem at all, but similar to many during this lockdown, I’m stuck at home and there’s only so many Netflix shows and YouTube videos I can binge at a time before I become bored, so I resort to sourcing my entertainment from shopping on Amazon and looking for the next new gadgets that I’ve wanted. Although that new Amazon Alexa, or Nintendo Switch coupled with Amazon Prime may seem super attractive right now, there are consequences to purchasing those items.

Review: During COVID Lockdown

Online retailers create a space where it’s super simple to purchase items online and have them delivered straight to your doorstep. They cater to your needs because that’s how they do business but think about all of the consequences that might follow your purchases: producing plastic/paper waste from shipping materials and carbon emissions from shipping transport are the two main ones that come to mind.

brown cardboard boxes on black plastic crate

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

It’s not to say that you shouldn’t be purchasing items you want or need during this time, but there’s a time and method of doing so in an efficient manner. Next time you order items online, try to wait for when you can purchase all your items at once, and make sure the items you’re looking for come in one package. Online retailers usually let you know how many packages they’ll come in before confirming your order.

So, think twice before you hit “Confirm my Order” – to save your wallet and to minimize waste.

Call to Action: Post-COVID Lockdown

If you want to do something more than just better your existing habits, you can try to develop a sustainability plan for other aspects of your life in terms of purchasing, consuming, and transportation.

What could you cut back on? What could you substitute? How can you live more sustainably?

Those are 3 very important questions to ask yourself. I will follow suit with some tips that could inspire some change in your life during this quarantine and for the future after this quarantine:

TIP #1: Refrain from using too much unnecessary electricity; as the warmer weather is approaching, you might want to rethink leaving you’re A/C unit on. Try keeping the windows and doors open for the natural A/C plus some fresh air. Also, unplug any electronics that aren’t currently being used – while still plugged in, they still use energy.

TIP #2: Many sources conclude to huge carbon emissions resulting from livestock, so a way to help with that is to consume less meat products. There’s no need to cut meat products entirely out of your diet, but you could try having #MeatlessMondays or #SubstituteSundays. With this new change in your diet, be sure to conduct the proper research on nutritional facts though!

TIP #3: Head to a library (if, and when possible) to check out a book about sustainability or research some additional tips and tricks online.

grayscale photo of man and woman holding their hands

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Final Thoughts:

Keep in mind that educating yourself about sustainability and what the affects of improper habits will help out a ton, but you cannot only rely on the knowledge for improving our Earth’s condition. It’s a two-part process: develop the knowledge and use the knowledge as power. See, you can learn a thing or two even if you’re not in school, especially since there’s a lot more time freed up – take advantage and learn as much as you can!

Take that knowledge and commit #smallconsistentactions towards massive changes. If you want to build some consistent habits, no need to cut out everything at one time. Pace yourself and take those small wins as they come. Living a sustainable life is a process that is worth your time and energy.

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