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5 Creative Things You Can Do in Quarantine

There’s a lot of negativity surrounding being stuck indoors while we quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19, but there is plenty you can do while at home that will leave you feeling positive and lifted. It’s no secret that creative activity lifts mood and makes us feel better, as well as giving us purpose.

  1. Your To-Do but Putting it Off List

Now is the time to tackle some of the jobs you’ve been putting off. For a lot of people that is things like going through cupboards and purging their space of stuff they don’t need. Like it or not, there is only so much Netflix you can watch before something inside you will drive you to clean or tidy something.

What to do with all the stuff you find that you don’t need anymore? The Thrift Stores are mostly closed so now you have boxes or bags of clutter outside the cupboards. Hit Facebook and see what people need. In Vancouver there are Groups like COVID-19 Coming Together (Vancouver) where you can ask for what you need and give away what you don’t. Someone out there could probably use the bread maker or nutri bullet that has been cluttering up your kitchen for months/years with out use.

73173629_10156754108028660_5801367216112795648_oThere is also The Buy Nothing Project search for the name of where you live and join a group. You can probably give away household items and clothes, reducing waste and giving new life to your unwanted items. You can also ask for what you need, so it COVID-19 has left you unemployed or unable to go into work, this won’t put additional pressure on you.

2.Combat Shop-pocolypse!

young salad

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People have been going nuts in the stores, empty shelves where pasta and rice use to be, and of course toilet roll. While you can’t grow these things, you can plant some of your fresh stuff indoors ready to plant outside as the weather improves. Even if you only have a small space like a balcony, you can easily grow salad greens, lettuces, beans (the bush variety will grow in pots), tomatoes etc. Seeds can be mailed in the post and plant pots can be sourced free on craigslist, and in the buy nothing groups references earlier. This is a fun thing to do with kids too. Struggling for pots? cut the bottoms of 1 gallon milk jugs, plant greens in washed out cans or containers, they don’t need much space or root depth! We’ve used an empty shoe box and even a pizza box for greens and it worked! If you want to get inspired, here’s my favourite You-Tube Channel, Hollis & Nancy’s Homestead They give start to finish advice on growing almost any garden vegetable.

3. Make Your own Multi-Purpose Cleaner

man in gray shirt cleaning clear glass wall near sofa

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If you’re stuck inside, or f you couldn’t get any at the store try making your own!

Here’s a basic recipe for your reusable spray bottle*:

Multi-Purpose Cleaner – Is not a disinfectant, there is no guarantee that it will kill bacteria or viruses on your surfaces.

• ¼ cup of white vinegar
• 1 tbsp baking soda
• 1 litre of hot water
• ½ a lemon
If you’re looking for something to clean your kitchen surfaces, bedroom furniture, bathroom and general odds and ends with then look no further! This general, all-purpose household cleaner will freshen up, scrub and naturally disinfect all in one handy mixture.
Recipe: simplebites.net

A spray bottle of White vinegar will deal with limescale and mould in your bathroom, but be careful to focus on the grout and do a test patch first. It can leave marks on stone tiles.

*If reusing a spray bottle that had something else in it previously. Make sure you rinse it out properly before adding the new cleaner.

4. Create a Home Office Workspace

If you’re short on space and finding that you need to work from home to avoid contact with others, first of all, congratulations on having a job that allows you to day that! Not everyone does.

You may not have a space where you can work. Many people certainly where I live, don’t have a second bedroom, and it’s really not good to work in bed, so no desk? No problem.

If you have a coffee table or a shelving unit with shelves that come out, you can build your own desk.

You will need, your coffee table top or a shelf large enough to put your laptop computer on. As many big books as you can find.

If you’re using a coffee table, I recommend building book stilts for it to stand on. You want to stack your books largest and heaviest at the bottom and work your way up. if you’re going to be working on your couch than choose a height that is about 3 inches above your knees. It works best if you can stack at all our corners.

If you’re using a shelf. Find  a spot of wall and build two legs of books using the larges books at the bottom and working your way up. Again make it the height of the chair you’ll be sitting in and leave yourself about 3 inches space between you’re knees and the shelf bottom. You will need to be conscious of the shelf when you leave your desk to avoid knocking it over. It’s also a good idea to put a heavy book on top of the shelf at each end to hold the shelf steady while you’re working.

Another option if you’re really in a pinch is to remove your dishwasher or open the doors of a lover kitchen cabinet and empty it. You can sit on a stool and use the counter as a work surface. Desperate times, call for desperate measures. Instagram your desk creations and your friends will think your a mad genius!

5. Make Your Own Hooch (Must be of legal drinking age where you reside)

food healthy red blue

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Where we live people didn’t just go nuts in the grocery stores. The liquor store rush was insane!

When you’re stuck inside, with less cash and no where to go, you can get creative by brewing something tasty for yourself. Berries like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or even plumbs have natural yeast on them. It’s best if they’re organic, but if you can see that pale white matt colour on the skin, that’s yeast! Organic ginger can also be used to start a brew!

Get a plastic or ceramic container to hold your starter (this is what the yeast mix is called before you start brewing.

You want to have a ratio 3/4 FILTERED water to 1/4 sugar plus the berries of your choice. Make sure that your containers is very clean. I boil mine in water for ten minutes to be sure, then cover with a cheese cloth and rubber band.

You need approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup (120–180 millilitres) of yeast starter per gallon (3.78 litres). That’s one whole cup per gallon. You can google millions of recipes for home made hooch based on your flavour preference. Organic juices work best in my experience.

After 3-5 days you will begin to see bubbles in your starter. Let it ferment for for 6-10 days before adding it to your juice and fermenting (see your chosen recipe)! I recommend getting an airlock for large jars, or a basic kit. You can probably get some bits from your local buy nothing group, or online very affordably.

Most brews that we’ve made with wild yeast at home have been about 5% alcohol which suits us just fine. Higher percentages can be achieved with commercial brewing yeasts and wine yeasts. Enjoy!

The Last Straw: Zero Waste at Home, a Quick Inventory with Solutions

assorted plastic bottles

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We continue our journey to living a cleaner life and we’ve been inspired by the recent decision in Vancouver to ban all plastic straws. Single use plastics are the latest thing under scrutiny, so aiming to live clean we took an inventory of the single use plastics in our apartment and have begun compiling a list of ways to reduce. The goal is to cut them our altogether.

The inventory and the solutions

Kitchen

Plastic bags

  • Take your own reusable bags to the super market.

Plastic and foil single use food wraps.

  • We’ve tried reusing paper bags which we can then compost, and are going to give some of the beeswax reusable wrap products we’ve seen advertised a try.
  • Use existing jars and containers to store food in rather than wrapping it up
  • Use a lunchbox that you take to and from work instead of Ziploc bags.

Food and beverage containers of almost every kind, bottles, containers, bags

  • Save jars and make condiments like salad dressings, ketchup & other sauces from scratch.
  • Purchase grains, pasta, cereal, beans, herbs, spices, vinegar and oils from refill centres like The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver and reuse existing containers.
  • Instead of buying drinks in cans or bottles, take an on the go bottle with you whenever you are out and about. Keep a cup in the car for water, coffee or tea, so there’s no excuse for using a disposable cup.
  • Craft beer lovers, buy a glass growlers and then get it refilled with your favourite brew. It’s reusable and more affordable! Our favourite Brewery? Storm Brewing in Vancouver

Cleaning supplies for surfaces and dishes

  • Get refills in existing containers for dish soap from dispensaries. If there isn’t one near you, look up local places that sell unwrapped soaps.

Plastic bags on fresh produce

  • For fresh produce, don’t use a plastic bag to separate ranges, apples etc. It will take a bit longer at check out to get everything on the scale but not by much.
  • Some places will let you use your own bags. It is better to check with the store before you check out.
  • Go to a farmers market to get your fresh produce, you can put it straight into your reusable shopping bag!
  • For smaller produce there’s a simple cheat. Go to where the mushrooms are in the supermarket. There are generally paper bags available there. Use those and write on the bag what’s inside ready for check out. Then re-use, recycle or compost the bag.

Garbage bags

  • Compost, if you’re doing all the recycling you can and refilling other containers, there should be nothing to put in the garbage. Zero Waste is the goal.

Take out containers and plastic cutlery from delivered and takeout meals.

  • We’ve trialed this where we live. If you take your own container to places you order food from, we have found that the restaurants are generally happy to put our food in them instead of using their Styrofoam or plastic take out containers.
  • Carry a spork or pair of reusable chopsticks with you and you can say no to single use cutlery.

Living Spaces

  • Packaging on hard and soft goods

Contact your local municipality about recycling Styrofoam and plastic bags. It is possible, but you can’t put them in your recycling bin (Vancouver).

Bathroom

Shampoo & conditioners

  • Refill shops like The Soap Dispensary let you refill shampoo, conditioner and body wash! Stores like LUSH have shampoo bars that have no packaging, take less energy to make and as there’s no bottle, there’s nothing to recycle. If you’re traveling, pop the bar in a tin, it takes up less space in your luggage and won’t explode all over your clothes in flight!

Face and body wash, toothpaste containers

  • Refill on the body wash
  • Toothpaste? Open to suggestions on this one. I’m going to ask my dentist because I can’t find a refill for this. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

Vacuum packaging on soaps

  • Don’t buy soaps with vacuum packaging!

Toothbrushes (while we use them more than once, they are disposable)

  • Toothbrushes! Try these bamboo toothbrushes – sustainable, non-plastic from Giving Brush We’ve tried these brushes and love them. At first getting used to the feel of them on the inside of the mouth while brushing was a bit weird, but that passed. Highly recommend these.

Cleaning supplies

  • This one we’re looking at refills as well, but you can make some of your own cleaning products that have the added benefit of being natural and thus safer for pets and children. Keep the spray bottles you have and reuse with your home made cleaners. Yet to try this, but this looks like a good place to start if you are going to try and make your own.

The list isn’t exhaustive, but we had to start somewhere so this is what we’re doing! As we go, we’ll share any up-cycling tips we discover. So far cleaner living feels pretty good. We’re also going to take the Zero Waste Pledge Come join us!