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Zero-waste during Covid-19 lockdown

It’s the third week of lockdown. I hope you are all surviving. I’ve been very quiet on the Covid-19 topic till now, partly because I’m no expert in the field, but the real truth, I’m sure other moms can relate, is that life is a circus with 3 kids home all day. I’m not complaining - honestly, I couldn’t have chosen a better little tribe to spend lockdown with. But it’s busy.

We are living in a crisis, and I believe, if you have the luxury like me to do so, that lockdown is a good time to slow down and rethink what is important to us. A time to filter out meaningless, time-consuming or wasteful habits and hold onto what is dear. It’s a good time to assess our excessive consumer habits (now that we haven’t been spending money on anything other than food for the past three weeks…) that are neither healthy for us or the environment and come out of this crisis as a slightly wiser and more compassionate being.

Without underplaying the seriousness of what is and will happen, there are some silver linings we can take from this, appreciate, and be thankful for. Last Sunday as we were sitting in our garden a hawk slowly circled over our house and I marvelled at this beautiful creature that was enjoying the car-less suburbia as much as I was. What have you learnt and appreciated in this time?

So is it possible to still be zero-waste during lockdown? Here’s some tips:

Be Kind

This isn’t an exclusively zero-waste thing to do. It’s just human. The future is uncertain and there’s a lot of fear, panic and hard times around us. Just be kind.


“From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life” - Marie Kondo

It’s that time of year to unpack the winter clothes and tidy away the summer stuff.  With that, comes scratching around in wardrobes and the realisation that there’s more hidden in there than you ever need or use. Simplify your life by decluttering. Organise the things things you no longer need by what person or charity you plan to give it to once lockdown is over.

Clean your house - without toxic chemicals

It seems everyone’s house (except mine, of course) has never been so clean!  But have you ever considered what chemicals you are using to scrub that oven clean or wipe down your kitchen tops? Is it safe for you, your kids and the environment? I know, with the current COVID-19 outbreak, we want to reach out for the biggest weapons in our arsenal, but is this really necessary or effective? I think we all the truth - soap, or something with a good surfactant, works like a charm to kill viruses, so we really don’t need to panic and bleach every we touch.

Eat your pantry clean

Discover what’s hiding in the back of your fridge or pantry and eat it - provided it’s still edible ;-) It’s a great time to use up the food remnants we’ve hoarded over time and prevent it from going to waste.

Explore in the kitchen

Who would have guessed that in 2020 everyone would be back to baking their own bread again? Get creative and try something new. Make a sour-dough starter. Make pasta from scratch. Have you never cooked beans from dry? Now’s a good time to try. Dust off the cookbooks and try something new!

Buy zero-waste and/or local as much as possible

There’s definitely a surge in plastic to ‘protect’ us against Covid-19, which means plastic-free fresh produce is really hard to come by.  But there’s enough of us zero-waste stores for you to support for other necessities!

And try supporting local - not just because local small businesses really need our support - but also because buying local decreases food miles.

Plant seeds

Did you know that seeds are considered an essential service (well, it is where real food comes from after all…) so you can still shop online for seeds at Livingseeds or Seeds for Africa? There’s still time left to plant a winter crop and some kitchen herbs. Nothing can be more rewarding, self-sustaining and zero-waste!

Follow Zero-Waste Influencers on Instagram

There’s so many, but my favourite in keeping things real is @zerowastechef.

Watch a documentary

Type in “zero waste” in Netflix’s search bar and up comes Minimalism, Tidying Up, A Plastic Ocean, Cowspiracy to name a few. Personally, my favourite short documentary on the topic of consumerism has to be The Story of Stuff - do yourself a favour and watch it on Youtube.

Read a book

Grab a copy of Zero Waste Home, a great guide to inspire you to make changes to your everyday life and home.

Reusable masks

There’s a huge shortage of medical and respirator masks since the Covid-19 outbreak. Unless you’re on the frontline, I would suggest leaving those masks for healthcare workers to use. Although research on their effectiveness is limited, our health minister has recommended the use of reusable cloth masks in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. Wear them when you go to the shops folks! And watch this space…we should have some available for you very soon :-)

Make it, fix it, mend it

Dust off your sewing machine and sew up some cloth shopping bags or face masks. Darn those holey socks and repair the tear along the seam of your dress - you can’t replace it with a new one now anyway!

Fill an eco brick

Do a quick bin audit and sort out your recycling, and then see what plastics you have that you could rather stuff in an eco brick. Its a great educational tool to get kids of all ages involved in stuffing down the plastic.