Focusing on Sustainability During the Pandemic

Focusing on Sustainability During the Pandemic

Focusing on sustainability during the pandemic may seem burdensome, but the value of practicing sustainability has not diminished. Whether you’re concerned with your growing stack of take-out containers and grocery bags, the disposable masks you see littering the streets or you’ve been meaning to make your family’s lifestyle more sustainable, the new year is a great time to make some changes. The Glencoe Sustainability Task Force (GSTF) has some ideas for practicing sustainability. Here are a few ideas, many of which you might already be doing and hopefully some new ones:

  • Cloth Masks: Start with your own face mask. If you’re still using disposable masks or N95s, switch to a reusable cloth mask (unless you have to use N95s for health reasons), which can be washed with the rest of your laundry.
  • Water: We are fortunate to live next to Lake Michigan, one of the largest water bodies in the world. Its quality as drinking water is superb, as proven by continual testing. So, let’s quit using plastic water bottles! If you have to use one, let it be a durable, refillable one that lasts for years. If you buy a lot of cans or bottles of sparkling water, consider investing in a “soda spritzer” machine and make your own sparkling water. We also can turn off the water when it’s not being used while brushing teeth, shaving or taking a shower. Let’s time ourselves and take 5-minute showers. It can be done! You can even collect the cold water as the shower water is warming to water plants.
  • Conserve Energy: Starting with the simple stuff: turn off lights and appliances when not in the room or using them. Lower the heat to 68⁰ (it’s not painful!). Pull down storm windows in winter and install more insulation. Thermal pumps, skylights, solar panels are worth the investment if you’re going to stay in the house for a while.
  • Community Solar Subscription: Not interested in having solar panels on your roof right now? You can easily signup for the largest municipally sponsored community solar program and support solar development in the State of Illinois while reducing your household energy bill credits by 20 percent. Check out this program here!
  • Consider post-consumer materials and less packaging: As we indoors more, we’re also consuming more goods at home. So buy paper products with 30% post-consumer recycled content, invest in reusable bags and switch from package intensive products to products with minimum and easily recyclable packaging (such as a swap from liquid soap in a plastic plump bottom to bar soap wrapped in paper).
  • Go paperless: Have vendors email receipts, instead of printing them. Switch to paperless billing. Some credit card companies offer discounts for going paperless.
  • Recycle: Of course, recycling and reusing clothing, paper, cans, and plastic is fantastic. Glencoe is one of the highest recycling communities in the Chicago area. Let’s keep it up!
  • Shop local, make one trip instead of several, and buy in bulk (get essentials like rice, pasta and cereal and refill reusable containers at home, eliminating the use of a lot of small plastic bags). While some grocery stores are still restricting the use of cloth bags, many are allowing you to use them, including The Grand Grocery Store. You can also skip the bag, put your groceries in your cart and transfer them to tote bags in your car.  
  • Reduce consumption: Consider consuming fewer products. Buy used products whenever possible by utilizing thrift stores and swapping websites, like the Facebook marketplace. When you do make new purchases, consider the quality and the lifespan of the products, as well as if it was sustainably produced and if it can be easily recycled or reused. Avoid “fast fashion.” Also consider grouping your online purchases together to reduce the number of times the delivery truck must stop at your doorstep.

  • Dining: When dining out at local restaurants, bring your own reusable container for leftovers. If ordering take-out, ask the restaurant to keep its plastic cutlery and paper napkins. 
  • Look beyond the curbside recycling program to find more recycling opportunities: Did you know that you can recycle some electronics with the Village or that the Public Works Building vestibule has several recycling programs, including for batteries and fluorescent light bulbs? Return those bags and old hangers to the dry cleaners! Florists regularly accept old vases. Hardware stores and department stores often have special recycling programs. Use the SWANCC Recycling Directory or Earth911 to find recycling programs.
  • Composting: Composting food scraps reduces carbon emissions. If you cannot commit to composting in your backyard, you can sign up for a yard waste subscription with Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) or participate via yard waste sticker to compost food scraps from April 1 through December 15 every year or drop-off food scraps in marked composting bins on Temple Court behind the Public Works Building.
  • Mark your Calendars and Stay Tuned: Mark your calendars for the third annual Donate and Recycle Drop-Off Event on Saturday, May 15 and the SWANCC Paper Shredding and Electronic Recycling Event on Saturday, June 19 at the southeast commuter parking lot. Watch for more details to come on these events and more exciting GSTF sponsored programs in the works on the Village website, social media, and Village Enews!

These are just a few tips to be more sustainable. Let’s energize our families, including the kids, to come up with even more ways-to save money and make Glencoe and our planet more sustainable!

Submitted by Glencoe Sustainability Task Force Members Sandy Culver, Hall Healy and Linda Lin