Sustainability Guide for Staying Home During COVID-19

As we work to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, staying home and keeping our distance from extended family, friends, and neighbors is our new norm. While we don’t know exactly what happens next and when it will happen, as of now we are in this pattern until Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55 expires on June 10. 

As we stay home, follow CDC Guidelines, and try to get some work done, how do we continue to advance our sustainability values, support our community and the people we care about, and keep ourselves safe and healthy?  The Radford University Sustainability Leadership Team interns have prepared a resource to help you. 

Environmental Tips

  • Enjoy not commuting! You now have this time back in your day and you are cutting down on your carbon emissions and your fuel expenditures. 

  • While we still have to maintain social distance and stay home, that doesn’t always mean inside.  This is a great time to go outside and appreciate nature and what the Earth has to offer. 

  • With this slowdown from the normal hustle and bustle of life, it could be a great time to start a garden.  Once this grows, you will have a local source of produce.  Also, planting flowers around your home is a good way to bring in pollinators. Not only does planting and gardening promote sustainability, but it’s a source of happiness and relaxation as gardening can be a way to decompress from stress.

  • If you have kids at home, try working in some lessons on sustainability.  Have them start a garden with you, show them how to recycle, teach them about environmental processes and their impact.  Try to lead by example and cultivate an appreciation for the environment with whoever is home with you.   

  • Use this time to see how the slowing of the world has a had a positive impact on the environment and ways that we can keep it up once life returns to “normal”. 

  • Look around your home and see what types of sustainable changes you can make.  Switch out your old lightbulbs to LED’s.  Turn your air conditioning up a degree or two (or heat down a degree or two) and open a window for natural breezes. 

  • Open blinds and curtains to use natural lighting instead of having all the lights on in the house.  

  • Take note of how much plastic you are using in your home and where you can cut back.  Try to create less “trash”, use environmentally friendly products, and stop using “single-use plastic” items.  

  • Refill a water bottle or cup, download the Fill It Forward app, and scan a tag to track your environmental footprint and donate to a clean water project somewhere in the world FOR FREE!

  • Assess how much food you waste weekly and where you can reduce it or stop it completely.  

  • Now that you are limiting your trips to the grocery store and stocking up on essential items, think about your consumption and your environmental footprint. This could be an opportunity to re-think your own supply chains.  How much do you buy that isn’t locally sourced?  Are you buying things you don’t need?  Is there a more environmentally friendly way to get that item, like buying local or second hand?  Is that item you are about to throw away really at the end of its life or can you repurpose it or donate it?  

Social Tips

  • Staying home and social distancing can take a toll on your mental health and well-being. While people are unable to live their normal daily lives, loneliness can cause stress which can lead to a weakened immune system. A positive way to make the “stay at home order” easier is by staying in contact with friends, family, and coworkers. When using video-conferencing technology you can see and hear these important people. Being part of a society and being able to socialize with others is integrated into our “humanness” and is necessary to stay healthy. 

  • Stay in touch and check-in with friends through social media and the telephone, especially if you haven’t heard from someone in a while. So think of it as physical distancing, not social distancing!

  • When you do have to leave home for essentials follow CDC Guidelines to stay safe. 

  • Now that everyone is in a “stay at home” order or mandate, that means that heads of household and “dependents” will now be home together. With the whole family back home, there will be extra mouths to feed, more of a mess to clean, homeschooling instruction, at-home remote college courses, and working from a home office. Respect each other's space and try to appreciate this unique time together.  

  • Play a card game or board game with the family to give your brain a little exercise and a break from the phone screen.

  • Get some exercise! You may have to change up your routine or get creative, but exercise and well-being go hand-in-hand. Go on family or solo walks, as getting some exercise and fresh air is a good way to recharge.

Economic Tips

  • Think of creative ways to reuse items that are normally single use. For example, wash and reuse plastic bags, or make rags out of an old t-shirt instead of using paper towels. 

  • Many restaurants and stores are trying to continue serving the community and keep their employees working. If you have the means, order takeout from your local restaurants and shop for essentials at your local stores. Call in orders or shop online and visit the store or restaurant to pick it up. You won’t even have to go inside!

  • If you or a member of must report to a workplace outside the home, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe. Follow CDC guidelines, wash your hands, wear a mask, and consider changing into clean clothes and shoes before coming home. 

  • Many people are being furloughed or laid off during the pandemic. Take advantage of social support programs if you are eligible – that's what they’re for!  

  • If you don’t have health insurance, you may still be eligible for assistance if you get sick with COVID-19. Check with your employer and federal, state, and local healthcare websites for options.