Sustainable Living

Ways Our Lives Became More Sustainable During the Pandemic

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Pandemic Reality Check

At first, I (Alison) was feeling okay through the instructions to self isolate and stay home. I had supplies and felt like I wasn’t in desperate need of anything, so I waited a couple of weeks in hopes that the panic buying would subside. When it came time to face the stores, I tried to mentally prepare myself. But I had never experienced anything quite like it to know what to expect.

The experience of seeing empty shelves and people grabbing whatever they could, increased my own anxiety and caused me to feel panic. What if I really need something and I can’t get it?

When I got home I started to look at my supplies differently. I started to think of how I could make something last longer and what I could use as alternatives. Krista was having similar thoughts about making her family and home more sustainable and self sufficient.

Together, we’ve made some small, easy changes that turn out to be better for our budgets and better for the environment.

Here’s a list of our low-waste, sustainable choices that will help keep us out of the grocery store lines longer:

1. Facial Tissue

With paper products being near impossible to find and my facial tissues running low, I needed a way to make them stretch. I had a package of washcloths (like these ones*) sitting on my table waiting to be returned to the store. It was the perfect simple solution!

If you don’t have new washcloths laying around from an unfinished project like I did, old washcloths or a cut up t-shirt would work just as well.

2. Dry Shampoo

While I’ve always disliked the waste that comes with a bottle of dry shampoo, I really like the fact that the dry shampoo can help me go a few extra days before washing my hair.

I’ve known for years that corn starch* can be used in place of dry shampoo, but I just wasn’t motivated enough to try it–until now. And it turns out I like it way better!

I placed some cornstarch in a small container to keep in the bathroom. It is incredibly easy to pinch a small amount and rub it on the roots of my hair. My hair is a combination of dark brown and natural silver/white. As the corn starch doesn’t disappear completely right away, I found that my silver and white hair helped to disguise the white cornstarch residue.

Krista was making some similar changes, so here are a few of her sustainable swaps too.

3. Steam Mop Pad

I (Krista) have never purchased the disposable pads that fit my Swiffer Bissell steam mop, not liking the strong scents or the fact that they are used once and then go in the garbage. I had used a washable pad from a different mop that didn’t fit very well but seemed to work. However, the state of things is such that I’ve been cleaning more often lately and was frustrated with what I had been using.

I, like Alison, had some anxious days as the recent changes to life began to sink in and decided to crochet a new mop pad as a bit of a stress-reliever; and I have to say, it works really well! It’s still soft enough for my laminate floors but has a bit more of a scrubby texture than the mop pad I had been using. It washed up well and fits great too.

I had this cotton yarn * left from another project but similar yarn is available at many stores though I purchased it from Amazon. I didn’t really use a pattern however based the structure on a crocheted washcloth, which would be another great item to make rather than purchase at the store.

4. Hand Soap

I’ve been making hand soap by re-purposing empty foaming hand soap dispensers! I use about two tablespoons castile soap*, top with water and add some essential oils for scent but that step certainly isn’t necessary.

5. Paper Towels

A couple of months ago I purchased these towels * looking for a reusable alternative for paper towels. I attempted to attach some velcro to these towels so that they could be linked together, rolled and stored on a paper towel holder. However, I’ve found that they’re easy enough to roll without being attached, or also very functional simply folded and stored in a basket on the kitchen counter. Old towels or sheets cut to size would also make a great replacement for paper towels!

6. Washable Swiffer Duster

I had been wanting to make reusable Swiffer replacements for some time and I finally did it! And they were surprisingly fast and easy to make. I cut several rectangles out of a fleece blanket and sewed the three seams to put this reusable duster together in less than half an hour. A quick online search also yielded no-sew options for those without a sewing machine. I used a fleece blanket but you could certainly use old fleece clothing items as well!

Have you been making some sustainable swaps lately? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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  • Holly

    Wow, these are wonderful ideas to repurpose items we may already have. Reducing waste is critical, now more than ever. What you said is true – it became all the more evident when we went to stores and saw nothing but bare shelves. For many of us, it was a wake up call.

    My husband and I, just like the two of you, became even more focused on creating sustainable options in our home. We’ve changed a lot for the better. It’s proof that good things can come out of tragic situations. I hope everyone starts to lean more toward sustainable living. The more self-sufficient we are, the more money we save, and the less panic we have over what the world economy does.

    I love your mop pad, by the way. That’s a great idea. Thank you for sharing these tips. I hope you and your family are well. ♥

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve been learning and experiencing too. It’s great to hear that you’ve been making some of those changes too. It’s been an eye opening year and one that’s really emphasized the need for some self sufficiency. If you give the mop pad a try, we’d love to see pictures! 🙂

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!