The food shops are now selling out of everything moments after the stores open, as people stockpile goods, preparing for lockdown and self isolation. I know this, as my husband is a supervisor at one of the big UK supermarkets. He's in the front line. Its bedlam. Antibacterial gels, toilet roll, all types of wipes, pasta and liquid soaps are in highest demand, while things like, bar soap, eggs and flour sit happily on their fully stocked shelves.
We as a family, feel anxious, for what tomorrow will bring.
But one cannot dwell too much. We have to try and stay upbeat, for the kids, for our own mental health and wellbeing, and to press on with day to day life, just as we lived before this outbreak - with that extra measure of caution and mindfulness.
We are a fairly low plastic consumption family, and we do not want to fall into the trap of reverting back to heavily packaged plastic goods or throw away and single-use plastics. But we want to stay clean and protected. Lucky for us, there are safe, hygenic, practical, sustainable, plastic-free choices that we can use, in the home, out and about and in the workplace.
First up, hand hygiene. Hot topic, and rightly so, as it is widely documented that soap, is the best weapon (along with water), in protecting ourselves, and others. The virus particles stick to our skin like glue and the soap breaks down the glue and helps the germs slip off. But for some reason, most will forget about bar soap, favouring liquid soap or an antibacterial gel. If you are able to wash your hands using bar soap, do it, overusing alcohol gel, and help to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles, guys.
Washing hands with our natural plastic free soaps
Next up, wipes. Ah, the dreaded wipes. I'm not going to say I've never used wipes. In fact, I used to bloody love them. I was Captain Wipe. Wipes were great. I'd use baby wipes for the dining room table, cleaning spills from the floor, dusting the skirting boards, getting the kid's finger marks off walls, you could use them for everything, oh and wiping bums. Now, an enlightened soul, wipes are the devil. Around the house, levels of cleaning have increased, but this has just upped the rotation of cloths and a few more chucked in the washing machine.
Now using: our reusable kitchen paper. Use, wash, repeat.
There are super simple recipes to make your own natural cleaning products. I'm not sure if vinegar is one of the "high demand" items, but it should be. It's a cleaning staple in our household, which we pimp up with essential oils or lemon if we have any kicking about. We use compostable scrubbies, with a hessian backing. Having a patterned cotton on one side, with a hessian backing, I allocate one pattern for on use. Whales for the kitchen, Flamingoes for the bathroom and Cacti for other rooms.
We also use compostable sponges, unsponges and the good old flannel. Flannels are my particular favourite (I've inherited a lot of dodgy coloured, hand me down flannels, form my mum!), which I use as "travel wipes" when we are out and about. I wet a little bundle, and rub soap onto half the bundle and pop them into a little repurposed tub. They seem to work a treat. The kids know no different now. They probably think baby wipes are some new-fangled invention when they see other people using them! Sorry guys! You're not having them.
Now refreshments. I don't buy bottled drinks. We all have our own drinks bottles and take them with us when we go out. Plenty of places will refresh for free, but if your're worried about handing the bottle to someone to top up, take an extra bottle with you. I often find I dip into the the "reserve bottle", when I'm out with the kids. My mates say I'm insane, that I carry too much, and that I'm too prepared! You can never be too prepared. This also applies to coffee cups. I take my own cup into work and when I'm out and about. This way, I know that I have cleaned it and have no concerns who may have used it before me. I have a glass, Neon Kactus cup, which is simple to clean and holds drinks heat well. And a Lemon Qwetch water bottle, also cleans well, and looks awesome.
Eating on the go. I carry a little bamboo cutlery pouch in my bag. You never know when you may need and, and knowing you've cleaned it, there is no worry, anguishing over whether the cutlery you've been provided is suitably germ free.
Periods. I hate my period. I'm not the sort of chick who embraces "the bleed". I tolerate it. If we end up in lockdown/self-isolation/or unable to get to the shops, and I get my monthlies, then I'm all prepared, with my stash of reusable sanitary pads. Gah, thats gross, you may say. Not as gross as you dumping your disposable ones in the bin, for landfill. These wash up just fine, and once you've invested in a few, that's it. Until I get the menopause!
Fresh fruit and veg. Don't be afraid of loose fruit and veg and support your local greengrocer. Small businesses will fold if we don't support them. If we can get out, get to the greengrocer, reuseable bags in tow, buy all that yummy immune boosting food, get home and wash it. Reusable cotton bags, wash well too.
Last up, look after yourself. All this mental energy thinking about whats best to do for yourself or your loved ones, alongside trying to stick to your values and reduce plastic consumption, is exhausting. We might be spending alot of time in our homes soon. Slow down, make do and mend, enjoy a more back to basic life. Bake bread, spend time in the garden (if you have one) or grow seeds on a windowsill, play board games, read, and if you can get out, go for walks in the woods.
We have to make the most and best out of a bad situation. We have no other choice.