According to GreenMatters.com, the coronavirus pandemic has inspired 64% of Americans to live more sustainably. Have you seen yet the pictures of the bright blue skies over some of the world’s most polluted and densely populated cities like New Delhi, Katmandu, and even Paris? While these results were born from unhappy circumstance, I can’t help but feel invigorated to contribute to a bluer, greener, and cleaner world.
According to a new survey, life at home has more Americans rethinking their habits and inspiring more to move to eco-friendly lifestyles. Per the same survey, these new green habits include recycling more, using less paper products, and reducing food waste. I, personally, have been taking the baby-est of steps, including switching to a glass water bottle, always opting for the Amazon delivery that requires the fewest of boxes, reducing energy consumption by relying more on natural light and climatizing through the strategic opening and closing of windows, on top of what I have already been doing like recycling, using reusable shopping bags, etc.
While I am excited that I and others are attempting to live more green-ly, I am wondering what exactly brought this on. While I do believe that the eye-catching photos of blue skies influenced my decision, I do not think that this is the sole reason behind my conversion. In addition to such before-and-after photographs, I was also swayed by the graphs and maps beautifully quantifying the decrease in pollution as a result of decreased travel and business activity. Also, on a more personal note, seeing waste pile up right before my eyes at home was another big contributor to my decision. Living at home 24/7 (times about 60+) has made me witness just how much waste I am responsible for. Our garbage bin fills up faster than our recycling and our apartment building does not have a composting system. Picking up the trash bag and lugging it down the hallway to the trash chute serves as a physical reminder that I am a waste monster. To help alleviate this waste burden, I rely more now on the garbage disposal as an eco-friendly alternative.
Even if the survey is true and 64% of us are really aiming to live more sustainably, I can’t help but notice how much household waste we are creating with our frequent online purchases. On my walks to the trash room, I have seen piles of empty boxes on every floor, and heaps of untouched boxes in the mailroom. There are so many boxes, in fact, the electronic locker system for package delivery is perpetually at capacity! Additionally, I know that I and many others have come to rely on Amazon’s grocery delivery service as an alternative to braving the aisles of the supermarket during the pandemic. While this service is certainly convenient (when you can actually manage to secure a delivery time – the service is extraordinarily popular in my area!), it does, perhaps, create more waste than what I would normally make. For example, in my area, one traditionally must pay for paper or plastic bags upon check-out, which makes the use of cloth bags popular in my area. However, the grocery delivery options exclusively use paper bags and other cardboard/ Styrofoam-like materials to insulate cold products. It would, of course, be impractical to implement such a service without disposable bags, however, it is also not the most environmentally friendly option (but what can one do?).
To return to the question ‘why are we living more sustainably?’ the answer to me is that it really does not matter. When it comes to protecting the environment, to me the act of living more sustainably and encouraging others to do the same is far more important than your rationale.
All in all, it is good to see even a little positive change during this (let’s be frank) godawful time.