10 Ways to Live Sustainably in a Time of Social Distancing

As Earth Day approaches next week, we want to celebrate this beautiful planet we live on--even while the majority of us are spending all of our time at home. Here are 10 ways you can live more sustainably during this time of social distancing.

1. Plant a small garden in your yard or a pot of culinary herbs on a sunny windowsill. Growing produce at home can help you take less frequent trips to the grocery store while we're being advised to stay home. Driving less is good for our air quality and the planet.

2. Convert some (or all) of your lawn to low-maintenance xeriscape, native plantings, and/or edible landscaping. Turfgrass is poor quality habitat for wildlife, and it often requires large amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides for maintenance.

3. Switch from gas-powered to battery-powered electric lawn equipment when replacing your mower, chainsaw, trimmer, and more. The small engines in lawn care equipment are major polluters.

4. Ask yourself if you really need to run the air conditioner, or if you can set it a bit higher than usual. Heating and cooling account for the highest amount of energy usage in most homes. During these beautiful breezy spring days, try opening the windows and letting nature cool you down (but also consider health issues if anyone in your home is sensitive to pollen).

5. Mulch or compost your lawn clippings instead of putting them in bags curbside. Leaving grass clipping on the lawn after mowing ensures that nutrients will be returned to the soil.

6. Start a compost pile. When food waste is put in a landfill it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting is not only better for the climate, but it will also produce high-quality soil full of nutrients for your garden or plants.

7. Turn off lights when leaving a room, install LED lightbulbs, and unplug chargers and appliances when not in use. Many of us could see higher than usual electricity bills because we're spending so much more time in our homes. Keep your costs and environmental impact to a minimum by being mindful of how you're using energy in the different parts of your home.

8. Support a small business by purchasing a take-out order (walk or bike to pick it up if you can!), or buying a gift card for a future purchase/service. A healthy local economy depends on businesses of all sizes, but small and micro businesses are having an especially hard time right now.

9. Enjoy a safe, local walk or bike ride if you live in an area where you can maintain proper social distancing. Keep yourself and your loved ones healthy by enjoying exercise outdoors and close to home. This isn't the time to engage in higher-risk activities because our hospitals need maximum capacity to be prepared for covid-19 patients.

10. For those times when you do need to pick up groceries or other essential supplies, offer to pick up an order for your elderly or vulnerable neighbors during the same trip. Not only will you save that person a trip, but you'll also help them stay safely in their home.