This blog is written by Recycle Coach as part of an ongoing content series with the Carton Council.
Eco-friendly habits are on the rise. A recent survey reports that since the pandemic outbreak, 64% of Americans have been inspired to live more sustainable lives, and 55% are recycling more. During this time of social and economic change, it’s incredible to see people embrace positive habits in response to the challenges brought on by COVID-19.
As our communities rebuild, it’s as important as ever to embrace an environment-first approach to daily living. The novel coronavirus has created an opportunity for everyone to adopt positive change, and that means altering your habits. The question is – how?
It starts with small actions and big ideals.
Today we’re going to share 7 amazing eco-friendly habits that you can start at home, that will make a significant impact on the environment, your mental-health and overall wellbeing.
FORMING LASTING ECO-FRIENDLY HABITS: THE PROCESS
Charles Duhigg wrote the modern guide to habits in his seminal work, “The Power of Habit.” To create lasting change, the author suggests a 4 step framework to establishing new patterns of behavior. These steps are useful when adopting new green practices at home.
1: Identify your routine
2: Experiment with rewards
3: Isolate or understand your cue
4: Have a plan
This simple process involves identifying your current routine and what triggers it, then consciously and actively replacing that behavior with something different. To finish up, you should establish a reward for successfully implementing your new routine.
We’re going to use this process to help you shift from consumption-styled behaviors, to eco-behaviors that are great for your home, your local environment, and the planet you live on.
#1: CORRECT DISPOSAL AND COMPOSTING OF FOOD DELIVERIES
Since the stay-at-home orders were announced, 22% more Americans have been ordering food from restaurants for delivery. That means there’s a lot of food and takeout containers finding their way into your kitchen. Do you have a sustainable food delivery protocol in place?
Your first eco-friendly habit focuses on composting your leftovers and either recycling or correctly disposing of your takeout containers.
Eco Food Delivery Habit:
Step 1: What is your current food disposal routine?
Step 2: What reward in this instance would support a change in behavior?
Step 3: What cue triggers the bad behavior?
Answer these questions to establish your new cue-routine-reward loop!
The Right Routine
Takeout deliveries have two components – leftover food scraps for composting, and food containers. The first thing you need to do is set a behavior for composting your scraps. Get a compost bin and make it easily accessible from your kitchen. Dispose of all compostable food there.
Composting enriches the soil, and helps reduce waste that ends up in the landfill. You’ll have super-plants at home while helping to minimize greenhouse gasses! Your takeout containers are the second part. Check if they can be recycled – your municipality will have an app for that. If they can be recycled, wash the containers and add them to your recycling. Dispose of the rest in the trash.
Takeaway: Spend time coming up with the right routine for your new green food delivery habit.
#2: SWITCH TO REUSABLE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
Since the novel coronavirus pandemic, demand for disposable PPE has skyrocketed. This means a lot of non-recyclable PPE pollution is entering our environment. These masks and gloves can put a strain on the environment in your city. Unless you are a front line health worker or otherwise at high risk, have you considered switching to reusable PPE instead?
Your second eco-friendly habit is about switching to CDC and WHO recommended reusable masks and gloves for a greener way of protecting yourself and your family against COVID-19.
Reusable PPE Habit:
Step 1: How do you currently use personal protective equipment?
Step 2: What reward motivates a change in behavior for you?
Step 3: What cue triggers the decisions you’re currently making?
The Right Routine
Switch from disposable masks and gloves to reusable ones, and replace the habits that accompany them. Get a few breathable cloth masks that can be washed each time you wear them. Just put them in a pillow case on a normal wash to keep them clean.
Replace your disposable nitrile or latex gloves with hardy rubber gloves. Wash these with soap and water after use, or disinfect them as you use them at home. These gloves can be used dozens of times and are just as safe as disposable gloves. Always wash your bare hands after use!
Takeaway: Incorporate these reusable items into your new eco-aware PPE habits.
*Medical Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
#3: KEEP AND REUSE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC
Single-use plastic has made a strong comeback since disposable packaging was deemed safer by the authorities amidst coronavirus concern. Many States have rolled back the bans stemming the tide of plastic that has been threatening the environment. What are you doing with these plastic bags?
Your third green habit involves stockpiling your single-use plastic bags and reusing them as many times as you can, followed by correct disposal. Many retailers offer plastic bag recycling programs.
Single-Use Plastic Habit:
Step 1: What is your current shopping bag routine?
Step 2: What reward would support a change in shopping behavior?
Step 3: What cue triggers your current behavior?
The Right Routine
Single-use plastic bags should be stored in a sealed container in your home for a few days (96 hours). Once this time has passed, they are safe to use again for other purposes. If your favorite local grocery store has banned you from bringing in bags, simply stockpile them.
The time will come again when you’ll be able to take bags to the store for reuse. Once you’ve reused these plastic bags a few times, dispose of them correctly in your trash can. Do not try to recycle them – plastic bags are non-recyclable. If you can use reusable bags in your State, do so. Material bags are the safest because they can be washed for reuse.
Takeaway: Establish a new routine for taking care of excess single-use plastic during this time.