How to stay green during the COVID-19 pandemic

Efforts to contain the spread of infection of COVID-19 have presented some challenges to environmentally-friendly behaviours, but two leaders on P.E.I. are finding ways to adapt.

Being mindful remains the key to reducing waste

No-sew bags made from T-shirts is a Tip Tuesday suggestion from the group Green Everlasting P.E.I. (Green Everlasting P.E.I./Facebook)

Efforts to contain the spread of infection of COVID-19 have presented some challenges to environmentally-friendly behaviours.

  • No more reusable coffee mugs at the drive-thru.
  • No more reusable containers at the bulk store.
  • No more reusable bags at some grocery stores.

But two environment leaders are finding ways to adapt.

Rachel Willcock, a mother of five in Summerside, writes the blog Managing Our Waste at Home.

Willcock said her family of seven, with just two bags of waste in the black bin over the last three weeks, is still managing to keep waste levels down. One important practice is keeping an eye on packaging and what is coming into the house.

"Being mindful," is what is at the core of her strategy, she said. "I've been on this journey now for two years, so I feel like I am already geared up."

Distractions during the pandemic, both for herself and for the people she buys from, have meant some slips, she said. She plans to work to correct them in the coming days, for example, at the butcher shop.

Reuseable containers are out for Rachel Willcock, but she is still taking her homemade reusable bags to the stores. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"The last time I ordered I got everything, all my meat packages, packed in Styrofoam and plastic where normally I get them wrapped in paper," said Willcock.

"I just haven't pursued that option in the last couple weeks. But I need to get onto that."

She's still taking reusable grocery bags when she shops. If she is asked not to, she said, she will just wheel her groceries out to the car and pack them in reusable bags there.

Activism while physical distancing

Paige Martin, a UPEI student, is part of a group called Green Everlasting P.E.I. The group organizes roadside cleanups, holds second-hand sales, and presents workshops.

None of those activities are possible in a time of physical distancing.

"We had a workshop at the end of March … a DIY-cleaning products workshop. We were going to have probably about 15 participants come to my house, which obviously we couldn't do," said Martin.

Paige Martin's group Green Everlasting P.E.I. has had to adjust to physical distancing. (Sam Juric/CBC)

"But we were able to do some videos online through our Instagram on Facebook and we've been doing those. Every Tuesday we do like a Tip Tuesday and we've been trying to show people different DIYs they could do at home."

Apart from moving online, the group is also developing new material, such as a recipe for hand sanitizer.

Martin said with some questionable hand sanitizer recipes circulating, her group took care to get it right, sourcing its recipe from the World Health Organization.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning


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