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#SISustainability: How to be environmentally friendly during a pandemic

Coronavirus pandemic

While working on keeping ourselves healthy, we shouldn’t forget to keep our planet healthy as well.

The Advance/SILive.com spoke with Staten Island’s resident green-blogger for all the tips and tricks necessary to remain sustainable during a pandemic.

Ariana Palmieri, a Bay Terrace resident, runs a blog sharing her zero-waste journey and tips and tricks for being environmentally conscious. She told the Advance/SILive.com that a pandemic shouldn’t prevent us from thinking about the earth.

“In a crisis, we tend to panic and see only what is in front of us,'' Palmieri said. “While this is understandable, we can’t lose sight of the things we value and cherish most.”

While we’re being told to practice social distancing and quarantine ourselves, Palmieri says sustainability is how we can stay connected to the world.

With fewer people commuting, there has already been a significant change in air pollution in China and Italy, according to NASA.

There have also been reports of clearer waters in Venice, with fish visible and swans bathing.

Despite this good news, the current panic-buying spree that can be seen all over the world takes away from the sustainability movement, Palmieri says.

“We’re encouraged to buy a lot of single-use items during this time, like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, face masks, gloves," she explained. “These will ultimately wind up in landfills, or worse – our environment.”

The green-blogger shared with the Advance/SILive.com a few product suggestions and tips:

TOILET PAPER

Rather than waiting in the long lines at early hours for toilet paper, pre-order plastic-free brands online. When you subscribe, products are shipped as often as you choose.

The brands she recommends are:

  • Who Gives a Crap
  • Reel
  • Pure Planet Club
Another investment Palmieri suggests is a bidet. They can be installed on toilets or purchased in a hand-held form.

HAND SANITIZER

If you can’t find hand sanitizer at home, you can make it yourself! Check out the video below to see how to make your own.

CLEANERS

One of Palmieri’s favorite green cleaners is her D.I.Y. orange peel vinegar cleaner. All you need is orange peels, vinegar and water to make it. It is an all-purpose cleaner that works just as well as store-bought ones, she says.

SICKNESS REMEDIES

All serious concerns should be addressed by a doctor, but Palmieri has some immune-boosting and comforting cold and flu season remedies. Whether it is tea, a neti-pot, or natural cough syrup, there are many ways to naturally calm your symptoms, she says.

If you are unable to eliminate medical waste during this pandemic, Palmieri says not to “beat yourself up.”

“If you must go get tested for coronavirus, don’t worry about the waste that will produce,” she explained. “The same goes for any kind of medication you might need during this time. If it comes in plastic, don’t even stress it.”

GLOVES

Rather than disposable gloves, Palmieri’s top tip is to wash your hands frequently. However, if you feel more comfortable with gloves, she recommends buying plastic free gloves.

She uses the brand If You Care, which are reusable and made from fair trade FSC certified natural rubber. Rather than disposing of them, they simply have to be washed and dried to be reused.

FOOD SHOPPING

Palmieri’s main tip is to stock up on only what you need, she told the Advance/SILive.com.

“Don’t hoard food – there’s more than enough food for everyone,” she said. “Just take what you need and leave some for others too.”

To shop sustainability, she recommends visiting a local farmers market.

The GrowNYC Greenmarkets on the Island are currently still operating on a regular schedule:

Staten Island Mall: behind Macy’s, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays St. George: St. Mark’s Place and Hyatt St., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays

If you’d like to shop at a grocery store, Palmieri recommends bringing reusable shopping and produce bags, being sure to wash them after every use.

While you should avoid buying plastic or cans, it’s understandable that it may be necessary during the current health emergency. Palmieri recommends that if you have to buy something in plastic, get the biggest container you can find. Smaller plastics are known to be harder to recycle.

FOOD WASTE

It is important to make sure the food you do purchase is made to last as long as possible, Palmieri says.

She recommends cooking with leftovers, making veggie stock out of food scraps, or making jam out of mushy berries. In her e-book, " How to Reduce Food Waste," she details many ways that food can be multipurposed.

If you have food waste, another alternative is to compost it. Currently, food scrap drop-off sites are suspended, but organic curbside pickup is still regularly scheduled.

Even though it is important to think about sustainability, Palmieri admits that, during a pandemic, it isn’t entirely within our control. The most important thing is making sure you’re staying safe.

“If [creating waste] is going to keep you healthy, it’s worth it,” she says. “After all, how can you care for the planet if you can’t care for yourself?”

 

This article was originally published on theguardian.com

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