When Covid-19 came onto the world stage, naively I did not think that it would affect me much. I work from a home office in an online industry, while I love eating out I don’t do it much, and I’m what I like to call an extroverted introvert- I love people but I need to be alone to calm down and recharge. So I am lucky in that regard, my life and my schedule didn’t flip upside down like so many people’s lives have. But it is the little things that are making this feel so foreign to me: the masks that trigger my anxiety, the restricted travel from county to county preventing me from escaping into the wilderness when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and the giant X shapes in tape on grocery store floors.
That last one, the changes in grocery stores surprised me as to how much it affected me. Grocery shopping, whether at a farmer’s market in the summer or a natural foods store outside of the growing season has always been something that eased my anxiety and made me happy. I love browsing the aisles seeing what looks good and fresh and vibrant. I rarely head to the store with a list- rather I check what I have in ‘stock’ in my pantry and then shop the store to see what will pair well with what I have already. I love meandering down bulk aisles with my canvas and mesh bags in hand, styling my cart as I shop. (Seriously though- I style my cart while shopping, that’s where my Instagram posts come from!) And with the coronavirus, I’ve had to open my eyes to the privilege of access once again.
I have always been an advocate for the zero waste and low waste movements and know that where I live in Denver makes it easier for me to shop in ways that make sense to me, that can avoid plastic, and that don’t take a lot of extra effort or time. For as long as I have been trying to reduce my waste I have had access to plenty of resources that make it possible. However, with Covid-19 changing the way that humans interact and shop that access has changed drastically.
In many of my favorite stores the bulk bins are filled with pre-packaged goods in plastic, reusable bags aren’t allowed on conveyor belts, and things like my favorite KeepCup coffee cups and to-go containers aren’t allowed to be used for take-out food orders. So I’ve had to make decisions that normally go against my shopping habits, I choose to continue to support local business, but that means more plastic waste coming from to-go orders and plastic shopping bags. So I have made some changes to my shopping habits that will work well for those who don’t have access to the amount of bulk I normally do
While grocery shopping, I try to get as much plastic-free produce as I can and when what I am looking for is unavailable, I choose the largest containers that I can to reduce waste. For example, instead of small bags of greens go for the large, recyclable plastic tub and use it up! Make smoothies, add greens into your breakfast eggs, and have a side salad with dinner (or a giant everything in the pantry and fridge get tossed into a bowl salad like I love!)
When looking at packaging options, choose what can be recycled the easiest. Aluminum cans, glass bottles, and cartons all can be recycled easily. Just make sure to check with your local trash and recycling pickup to see what your county can recycle.
Re-Grow (or grow) Your Food!
I have a whole video and post about regrowing kitchen scraps! It is super easy to do and if you have kiddos very educational as well! Try your hand at growing your own herbs on your windowsill. Propagating plants like basil and rosemary is also easy to do and very satisfying!
Choose your Battles
I love the earth and it needs to be protected. But in order for the earth to have mindful people to protect it, they need to be supported as well. So, support the restaurants, the coffee shops, and the local businesses in your community that are doing great things to support the environment even as our shopping habits need to change. For instance, I picked up tacos and margaritas from a local restaurant that supports local farmers and sustainability efforts even though I knew that as mandated by the state the to-go items needed to be ‘sanitary’ (read plastic cups) I just asked them to leave out the cutlery, straws, and napkins because I have them at home!
Make a Plan
I took a lot of things for granted pre-Covid and as I realize those things, I am making sure to jot them down. I have a list of causes to support, businesses to frequent, and changes to make once it is okay to do so. Plan and get ready for the future because all of this is going to change, it may not get back to ‘normal’ but our new normal will be well thought out and mindful.
And remember, this pandemic is changing everyone’s lives. Some of your are going to come out of quarantine with new baking skills, some will be super excited to get a drink with friends instead of over zoom, and some will feel defeated and run down. All of these options and the many more are normal, and fine. It is okay to not be okay. It is okay to choose your mental wellbeing over a movement. It is okay to choose your health, your safety, and your peace of mind over what you think you ‘should do.’ Choose you. Choose to support what you love and need and want, and that’s all anyone could ask for.
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