Events are being cancelled left and right, schools are temporarily closed and the President and the CDC have advised all Americans to practice social distancing and stay home. But while we’re home, we might as well make good use of our time.
It is now quite clear that the coronavirus will continue to spread throughout the United States. The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects that “widespread transmission” of the coronavirus will occur and that “in the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed to this virus.”
Although reports such as these may sound threatening, 80 percent of cases are expected to show only mild symptoms. In order to be able to help the remaining 20 percent, it is thus imperative that we do what we can to slow down the spread of the virus. Stay up to date on the CDC’s reports on the virus here: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
It’s no longer simply enough to wash your hands and practice good hygiene. Play your role in limiting the spread of the virus and keep your distance, avoid social contact and stay away from (even small) public events.
So for most of us, it’s now time to stay at home. How about using this time to do things that do good for the environment, the climate and our own health? Here are 10 helpful tips and tricks on how to use your time at home wisely:
1. Cook for yourself
Instead of stocking up on microwave meals at home, use the time to cook and explore new and healthy recipes. This makes sense for several reasons: If you cook for yourself instead of relying on processed products or ready-made meals, you avoid palm oil, chemical additives, excess sugar and reduce waste from plastic packaging.
Follow the rule of thumb: “The more natural your ingredients are, the better.” Here are some of Utopia’s healthy and homemade recipe favorites to get you started:
- Homemade Vegetable Broth Recipe: Easy, Organic and with Freshest Ingredients
- Homemade Pesto: Healthy, Easy-to-make Recipe in just 5 Steps
- Vegan Spreads: DIY Dairy Free Spreads with Only 2 Ingredients
Before you go shopping, think about what you want to cook and buy enough to last for a week or two. In our article on Healthy Meal Prep Ideas you can find suggestions on what foods to add to your shopping list.
2. Stock Up on the Essentials
Small emergency stockpiles of food and supplies are a good thing to have just in case – even if you aren’t prepared for a nationwide quarantine (or other catastrophes) lasting several days. This way, you won’t have to make unexpected runs to the supermarket, you save money and time (for later, when you don’t have as much of it as you do now).
You can use the time at home to put together a small emergency food reserve of fresh vegetables or (homemade) pre-made meals. It’s fun and simply makes sense. Plus, you know exactly what’s in it – and what’s not.
For example, you can take fresh vegetables (and sometimes fruit), toss them in a pot, boil them down or dry them. Alternatively, you can freeze foods. Utopia has a couple of helpful articles to get you started:
- Freeze Foods without Plastic: 6 Sustainable Household Hacks
- 8 Foods That Don’t Belong in the Freezer
- Foods that Never Expire: 8 Forever Foods for Your Kitchen
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that families develop a household plan in order to prepare for disruptions in your community due to the virus. This includes a 2-week supply of food, prescription and over the counter medications and other essentials.
3. Switch to Green Energy
Switching to green energy actually only takes a few minutes. However, many of us are often too busy to give this sustainable switch some thought. Now is a great time to make the simple and eco-friendly switch to green energy!
Once you switch, you will be supporting environmentally friendly renewable energies every day on into the future. Take the time to check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guide on Green Power and decide which Green Power Supply Options are best for you.
4. Video Calls Instead of Business Trips
Business trips are currently cancelled in many places, meetings too. In the best of cases, they’ve been rescheduled online: Video conferences, conference calls and home office options offer sustainable alternatives to climate-damaging air travel.
Utopia’s tip: Zero Waste Travel: Green Living On The Road
The current crisis shows that it is probably possible to travel without a plane. Due to the lack of demand, numerous American trans-Atlantic airlines have announced major reduction to their flight schedules for the coming weeks. Those airlines maintaining regular international travel continue to make rapid changes to their schedules.
Even in the absence of Covid-19, it makes sense to consider whether business trips by plane or faraway family visits are always necessary. How about we use the time to get savvy with the latest video conferencing tools?
5. Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning
Spring is coming, which is particularly evident from the mild temperatures that are forecast for the coming days. Social distancing and staying at home has provided time – and potentially a lot of it – for annual spring cleaning. Make it a thorough one this year and get a jump on it while you can. You’ll thank yourself later.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks on how to spring-clean like a pro:
- Capsule Wardrobe: Minimalist Tips for a Clean Closet
- The Best Way to Clean Tile Floors Without Chemicals
- How to Clean Your Mattress: DIY Tips and Tricks
- Homemade Oven Cleaner: 3 DIY Methods Better Than Chemical Cleaners
6. Read a Book
Hectic daily work schedules often leave us with little times for ourselves – and for our stacks of books on the bookshelf. Do you have a whole pile sitting around you’ve been meaning to get to for ages? Now is exactly the time for it. We’re all making sacrifices – your social life will return in time. Instead of letting boredom set in set, grab a book and read.
Those who don’t feel like reading can of course use the time to watch exciting documentaries and films. Here are a couple of Utopia’s own suggestions: 10 Must-Watch Environmental Documentaries
7. Avoid Shopping Online
Those who opt to stay at home probably already have everything they need – or so they might think. But while boredom spreads just as quickly as the virus, online shopping offers a comforting feeling of normalcy. This may seem enticing, however, in many cases we simply end up buying things we have no need for. Try to avoid buying unnecessary household appliances or clothes. Utopia’s collected 7 tips on How to Consume Less as a friendly reminder.
Why not practice restraint now and invest your money again in useful things and exciting events once the situation has calmed down a bit? Professionals in the creative sectors aren’t the only ones sustaining heavy losses due to the coronavirus. Restaurants, cafés and small independent businesses, organic shops and retailers are also taking a hit. Such establishments depend on you and your purchasing power to survive.
Here’s a tip: The Gift of Time: Great Ideas for Giving Quality Time
8. Repair, Don’t Replace
Your bike has had a flat tire for weeks now, your phone has a cracked screen and your socks are full of holes? Use the time you have now to repair and mend things you’ve been meaning to get around to but haven’t. Repairing isn’t only great for the environment, it’s also very easy.
Check out even more thrifty green-living ideas here: 10 Everyday Green Living Ideas: Sustainability on a Shoestring Budget
Those among us who pride themselves at being tidy have made cleaning part of their regular routine. While your office desks may be spotless, sometimes time is too scarce to keep our home office desks, kitchens, living rooms or bedrooms just as tidy. Make use of the time you have at home and straighten things up a bit. It’s easy and great use of your time. Plus, Utopia’s here to help:
- Desk Organization Ideas: Minimalist Tricks for Your (Home) Office
- How to Clean Your Room: Tidy Up Quickly with These Simple Tips
- Swedish Death Cleaning: The Art of Decluttering
- Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method: Tips on Tidying Up
10. Show Solidarity
Coming together in solidarity is always important, now more than ever. Help each other. Take over shopping duties, run errands or help out neighbors or acquaintances with other small tasks. This is especially important if they belong to a high-risk group, i.e. if they are older or have pre-existing medical conditions.
Most importantly: Do not expose your fellow human beings to unnecessary risk and do your part to help slow spread of the virus. Wash your hands frequently, observe proper personal hygiene, keep your distance and stay at home if possible.
This article was translated from German to English by Evan Binford. Read the original here: Wegen Coronavirus: 9 Tipps, wie du die Zeit zuhause sinnvoll nutzen kannst** Links to retailers marked with ** or underlined orange are partially partner links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org, because we will receive a small part of the sales proceeds. More info.
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