With governments locking down cities and health authorities requesting residents to self-quarantine to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, people are faced with weeks, if not months, of staying at home.
Naturally, many will use this time worrying about their health and that of loved ones, as well as their financial situations and careers. And for some, the thought of spending so much time at home can heighten the already elevated levels of stress and anxiety.
Thankfully there are many activities you can do during this time that can help you focus your energy on positive emotions and build sustainable lifestyle skills – while never ignoring the very real threat of the virus on your health, on people’s lives and its impact on livelihoods.
So here’s a list of green resources and things you can do – from reading sustainability-focused books to watching environmental documentaries and even completing online educational courses – that will help you get through this quarantine time as effectively and enjoyably as possible. And more importantly, help you gain practical knowledge that will inspire you to protect this planet and make this world a better place.
Prefer to use the time in lockdown productively? Acquiring knowledge and learning new skills is one way to do just that.
1. Enrol in an online sustainability course. There are so many topics to learn about and there’s usually an online course to help you gain that knowledge, whether you’re keen to learn about sustainable fashion, sustainable development, sustainable food and even sustainable construction. Future Learn offers a huge range of courses, some are free to access and some are available at a small upfront cost.
If you want to learn about permaculture, Milkwood Permaculture has online courses to help you learn practical homesteading skills. Learn how to grow fruit and vegetables including mushrooms and garlic and you can even learn how to preserve them so it doesn’t go to waste.
2. Read books on climate change, sustainability and the environment. Check out this comprehensive post on green books we recommend you read. If fashion is your first love, put these ethical fashion books on your to-read list.
3. Tune into sustainability-focussed podcasts. There’s the Green Dreamer podcast by eco advocate Kamea Chayne, The Sustainable(ish) Podcast by author and educator Jen Gale, and you can even tune into our very own Eco Warrior Princess podcast. There’s also a heap of sustainable fashion podcasts and conscious living podcasts on offer if you’re keen on these subjects.
4. Watch environmental documentaries. This list of environmental docos on Netflix will be helpful and so too this article which curates some of the best docos out there, such as Before the Flood and Inconvenient Truth.
This is the ideal time to get organised in the home, in your garden or in your business.
5. Declutter your home. Start with one room, and start decluttering and tidying one corner and then working through until you’ve organised the entire room and sorted and removed unwanted items. Don’t just get rid of these items; consider whether you can repurpose, recycle, add to another room, sell or donate to charity.
6. Declutter your wardrobe. If you want to fast-track your wardrobe decluttering skillset, the book ‘6 Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe‘ by Australian conscious fashion blogger Summer Edwards will help you do just that. This post also contains many helpful tips on the things you should let go of, keep and invest in if you want to build an ethical wardrobe.
7. Organise your office. This is the perfect time to tidy your home office; and since you’re going to be spending a lot of time in it during lockdown, this is also the time to create the office space you’ve always wanted. Get organised. File your paperwork. Do all the administrative tasks you’ve put off doing because you’ve been busy. Order eco-friendly stationery and office supplies. Buy some indoor plants to brighten up the room. Decorate it with ethically-made furnishings such as a beautiful handcrafted rug or wall-hanging from Made Trade.
8. Implement a system for dealing with household waste and recyclables. Whether you live alone, are part of a family or renting with some housemates, this is a great time to discuss and agree on how to discard or recycle items. One popular way to systemise waste is to set up separate bins inside the home with labels for different materials such as common recyclables, e-waste, soft plastics and biodegradables, and if you live with others, drawing up a list of who will look after this activity each week to ensure materials are placed in the correct bins and follows proper recycling practices.
9. Do a home audit. Understand consumption choices, lifestyle and waste habits by assessing what’s in each room, each cupboard and fridge and taking inventory of what you have and don’t have and keep lists of what you’ll need to buy and then aim to purchase those items as eco-friendly and ethically-made as possible.
A wonderful way to pass the time under lockdown is to make something you’ve never made.
10. Learn to cook new dishes. If you have never needed to learn basic cooking skills (because you still live with your parents who do most of the cooking) or have never bothered learning because you’ve relied on take-out, restaurants and UberEats, now is the time to acquire this fundamental life skill. Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura shares simple recipes via his new Instagram cooking show aptly called ‘Kitchen Quarantine’. He live streams his nightly show, cooking a full dinner with ingredients he finds in his fridge.
If you’re vegan or just want to eat more plants, we recommend checking out popular plant-based nutritionist and author Ellie Bullen a.k.a. Elsa’s Wholesome Life on YouTube and Instagram. She shares many delicious and healthy vegan recipes – that are super Instagrammable too!
11. Start an eco blog to document your sustainable lifestyle progress. A great way to track your sustainable lifestyle journey and keep yourself accountable to achieving your green goals is to start an eco blog and document your daily learnings. If you’re keen to make money because you’ve been laid off work or just want to supplement your income you consider affiliate marketing; monetising your content from the get go will help to top up your bank account. Sign up with leading affiliate platforms such as Skimlinks and Shareasale.
12. Launch your eco-focussed YouTube channel. Writing isn’t your thing, but film is? Start your own YouTube channel on your favourite sustainability topic. Love vintage style? Showcase vintage styling tips on YouTube. If you’re super handy and often completing DIY projects at home (such as building worm farms) then focus your channel on that.
13. Undertake an upcycling or DIY project. This is the time to make that worm bin or compost bin (and avoid throwing food scraps in the bin), knit that scarf for winter, start an embroidery project or turn that old t-shirt into a reusable tote bag. This article will inspire you to repurpose old plastic shampoo and lotion bottles and turn them storage holders and faucet extenders. There are so many creative projects out there. Consider your hobbies and interests, do some online searching for how-to articles or YouTube videos and voila, you’ll create something in no time.
14. Make your own zero waste products. From toothpaste, deodorant, non-toxic cleaning products through to soap bars, now is the time to try out zero waste recipes and get into the habit of making your own (which will help save money too!). Check out zero waste advocate Kathryn Kellogg’s 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste and Anita Vandyke’s A Zero Waste Life as both books include DIY recipes for beauty and the home.
15. Start your veggie garden. If you have space in your backyard, what better way to learn self-reliance and self-sufficiency then to start a vegetable garden. This article by ethical lifestyle advocate Kate Hall on starting a veggie patch offers helpful tips and practical advice. This post on the easiest herbs to grow is equally helpful. And if you don’t have much space to plant things, you can still grow herbs in pots and small containers (old tins, glass bottles and jars make ideal containers), or try vertical gardening, window gardening and even rooftop gardening.
Make the ‘eco’ switch
16. Switch to an eco-friendly search engine. The internet gives us a world beyond our home’s borders and as you’re likely to conduct more online searches now that you’re spending heaps of time at home, why not switch to an eco-friendly search engine such as Ecosia? This search engine helps you search the web and the company plants trees for every time you do!
17. Switch to a green electricity provider. This is a task that many put off, but with so much more time on your hands, there should be no more excuses. Finding a green gas and electricity provider is as easy as doing an online search and this should bring up relevant local businesses. In Australia, consumer advocacy group Choice has rated the top 31 energy retailers and lists the best green electricity providers in the country. In the United Kingdom, energy comparison site Big Clean Switch makes it easy for households to switch to renewable power.
18. Clean your money. It may seem the worst time to think about making your money ‘green’ and ‘ethical’ given how many people have lost their jobs, are queuing for unemployment benefits or budgeting their savings to last them into the foreseeable future. But if you have some capacity to think about it, switching your finances to ethical choices will help support industries that are working to build a sustainable present and future.
In Australia, there are many ethical finance companies such as Bank Australia and Australian Ethical Super. In the UK, Triodos offers ethical accounts for personal banking and there’s also Good With Money, a great site for learning about ethical investments and finance choices.
Prioritising your health and mental wellbeing is important during these anxious and uncertain times.
19. Get that body moving. Squeezing in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise will do wonders for your mental and physical health. If you don’t have the space, aim for physical activities that you can do from the comfort of your lounge such as yoga and pilates, or get that heart beat up by doing aerobics or dancing. If you have kids, heading out for a family bike ride around the local park will help to keep morale positive in the home.
20. Practice relaxation techniques. Doing relaxation techniques at home such as meditation, mindfulness practices and deep breathing exercises will help to relieve anxiety and stress, and counter the abundance of negative messaging on social media and the news so you can get some quality sleep. Download meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace if you prefer guided meditation. Gardening and going for walks are other great ways to clear the mind and centre yourself in these trying times – and the bonus is you get to connect with nature when you do!
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Feature image via Pexels.