Plastic pots with seedlings planted

How to Help the Planet While You Stay at Home

Now you have some time, take stock of how your home life affects the environment

This is probably the most time any of us have spent inside in our lives. That is, if you haven’t been to prison. In fact, I would wager that even if I had done a stint in ‘bin’ as they say, I would probably have gone for more sunny strolls than I have this past fortnight.

After a while, your home starts to almost change shape, the walls undulate, you feel as though you could lean against a surface and melt into it. Your kitchen is more like the set of a sitcom. You spend so much time in it now it feels like work, like a job, a construction. Still, it means you can start drinking every day at around 4PM and you don’t have to see that one guy at work you hate. Apart from on Zoom, but you can’t smell him on Zoom. Every cloud, eh?

For your run of the mill worker in this fast-paced, modern world, the home has become a place to collapse into. You don’t arrive in the morning thinking about what you’re doing, you just sort of … do it. Don’t think about the rubbish, don’t think about water, don’t think about anything but your stomach and your bed. This lockdown is a great time to take stock of not only your spice rack (when did I get dried tarragon?) but also your habits. You can use this time as an opportunity to turn your house into a right old eco utopia. Here are some things to consider!

(Note: Change Incorporated is not judging you. If you don’t have the time or energy to consider these things because the kids will simply not stop painting the walls with their own effluence and screaming because Peppa Pig’s head fell off then that’s cool too.) 

Meat 

Meat, as we know, is bad juju when it comes to the planet. From a land-scale perspective, and from a carbon-emitting perspective, it hits all the bad buttons. But after a long day who’s going to tell you ‘no’ to a nice home made Thai green chicken curry? Not God or your dad, that’s for sure. But seeing as we’re only allowed to leave the house for things like essential shopping trips or particularly smug jogs, maybe it’s a good idea to check out some veg recipes? I know veg is boring, but if you don’t just turn them into gross quiches and look up some eastern recipes instead they can be pretty good.

Colourful recycling bins

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński

Recycling

We’re sure you cool cats recycle to a decent degree already, but with all your newfound time you can really get weird with it. Wash out your tins, separate all your plastics, glass and paper. Maybe don’t throw any of it away, turn everything into a plant pot or an art project. Make your house look like a nursery. Lockdown is a great time for a spring clean, and you definitely have more clothes than you need. Don’t throw them away! Check out Recycle Now to see what you can do with them.

Compost

Now I’m not suggesting that you fully turn your one bedroom new build into a body farm over here but check it out: composting is very chic right now. Use some container that you were going to throw away, maybe the cardboard box those 20 bottles of wine you bought online came in, and fill it with all the muck you were just going to throw away anyway. If you’re lucky enough to have one, you’re going to want your garden to look as beautiful as possible as we approach the Summer of Nothing, because it’ll be the best place to soak up some sunshine.

Energy

Recreate a pandemic of the past by drastically reducing the energy usage in your home. Live a kind of 1918 Spanish Flu-times existence: reduce your reliance on electricity by lighting the house with candles, wash your clothes on cold and dry them on a rack, and as it gets warmer turn that heater off. Maybe even get into a bit of amateur role play and stick some pustules on yourself – you know, to feel alive, to feel something. Maybe consider making the move over to Green Energy UK? (But bear in mind that right now their customer services have been reduced, since they’re also affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.)

Water

I know this situation is basically prime long-shower-staring-at-the-drain-wishing-you-too-could-be-slurped-down-it-and-pumped-into-the-ocean time, but think again, pal. Water wastage contaminates many different parts of our beloved environment, so think about taking shorter showers and not leaving the tap running when you’re brushing those pearly whites. Maybe don’t even have a shower every day - who are you trying to impress here? Alexa? If you’re getting dirty just by sitting in your house, that sounds more like a ‘house’ problem than a ‘you’ problem.

I know it’s not a chill time to be thinking about all this, but also, in many ways, it’s the most effective. You can really scrutinise your behaviour when in the old lockdown, and you might discover that you’ve been doing things you don’t need to while on autopilot for most of your adult life. I’m off to pour some beans on my mud heap, for she is hungry.

Lead image by Markus Spiske