How to Stay Zero Waste When You’re Sick (or Living through a Pandemic)

Whether you’re quarantined at home with a virus or the flu, or you’ve just hunkered down in order to avoid all the community sick germs, how do you stay entertained and take care of your body without contributing to an overflowing trash bin? Here are a few ideas!

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How to Stay Zero Waste When You're Sick

1. Looking for zero waste entertainment? Rent a movie online and make your own popcorn – zero waste style. Instead of buying microwavable popcorn bags wrapped in plastic inside a cardboard box, try buying a single (recyclable) container of kernels to cook on your stove-top, adding your own butter, salt and Parmesan cheese. This method is healthier, less expensive, and sends nothing to the landfill!

2. Trying to ration your toilet paper and tissues? Make handkerchiefs a habit if you haven’t already! Any old t-shirt can be cut into handkerchiefs if you’re up for a little DIY project, or you could order these from Amazon. Just a few days stuck at home could cement this zero waste swap into your routine and save you tons of money in the future. Every box of tissues you would have purchased equals a few extra bucks left in your bank account!

3. Take a classic novel down from your bookshelf (or purchase an e-book online from Amazon Kindle) and have a reading marathon. Reading has been shown to reduce stress and have an overall positive impact on your body, which is probably a good trade-in for your brain after all the high-stress news on your television these days (thank you Coronavirus)! Here’s a fun article from The Atlantic describing even more scientific reasons to pick up a novel.

4. Find a healthy recipe to replace a snack that usually comes wrapped in plastic – homemade granola bars, muffins made from scratch, tortilla chips, etc. My toddler LOVES his granola bars, but I cringe when I buy them as I think about all those individual plastic wraps that end up in the trash — so this is my personal goal for the week! (Please comment if you’ve got a good homemade granola bar recipe!)

5. Do some online shopping for zero waste swaps! The easiest way for me to switch up my products has been researching and buying zero waste swaps ahead of time, and then continuing to use my old items until they’re gone. This keeps me accountable to actually implement changes, because I’ve already purchased them! If I wait until I’ve run out of something, then I have much less time to research, and I’m always tempted to pick up whatever I had a habit of purchasing before.

Note: Read through my other Zero Waste Tips for more specific shopping suggestions! 🙂

Fun fact: Did you know Amazon has actually taken some impressive stands to minimize waste? Not only are their shipping materials completely recyclable (even the padded mailers!), you can also opt to ship your items together to reduce packaging waste. Thank you Amazon!!

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