It’s the end of the world! Panic! Stockpiling! Hand sanitiser! Evil-eyeing any person within 30 feet who dares to cough! Opening doors with our feet (also gross by the way). People have gone unreasonably mad and for us eco-warriors, it’s terrifying to see this haphazard way of consuming everything in sight.
We can barely even begin to calculate how much more plastic packaging is being consumed (literally crying thinking about the number of bottles of hand sanitizer that have already been discarded in 2020), how often people are driving their cars unnecessarily to supermarkets, and how much food is going to go to waste when people realise that they don’t know how to cook with their stockpiled cassavas.
It’s easy to get swept up in the madness, trust me. I am the kind of person who imagines every piece of rubbish I’ve put in the bin blowing across a green field somewhere (I am at the centre of my own anxiety) yet even I found myself wondering whether I needed packets of biscuits, tins of spam and gravy granules, just because the empty shelves told me that’s what other people seemed to think they needed… Then, in a more realistic place in my mind, I was suddenly worried that I would run out of pasta, rice, toilet roll and washing-up liquid. Take a step back, I told myself, take a deep breath and check your shopping list - what do you NEED? It is worrisome, thinking that even I could waver.
So, if you also have symptoms of phantom panic, here’s some alternative spots (and tips) for finding supplies:
Help I’ve run out of: rice, grains, pasta, beans
Find your nearest bulk food store, many of them are remaining open until they are forced to close down and are all putting in place special cleaning and customer distancing measures. Check out Pebble Magazine’s list of a whopping 102 zero waste stores to find one near you.
Help I’ve run out of: washing up liquid and laundry detergent
Again, your local bulk food/plastic free store is bound to have both of these things. Alternatively, you can look for plastic-free/zero waste retailers online that sell things like Soap Nuts or Smol's biodegradable laundry pods.
Help I’ve run out of: bread
Seek out your local bakery, supporting small businesses that rely on daily footfall and the sale of consumables will be exceptionally grateful for your business at this time. Alternatively, you can bake at home! There is a wonderful recipe that I came across via a friend’s Instagram (@katiekatherinejane is full of excellent tips on living your best life, but especially on home cooking) by Mark Bittman that although takes a little time, makes a delicious loaf without the need for kneading.
Help I’ve run out of: fruit and veg
You’re probably out of luck on getting an ODDBOX or Abel & Cole delivery by now, but your local fruit and veg markets, plus convenience stores with roadside stalls are going to be relying on your business to carry them through this time so whilst you’re on a lunchtime walk, do a reccy of what’s going on in your local area.
Help I’ve run out of: milk
Milk & More are already overwhelmed but you may be one of the lucky ones where people generally avoid non-cow milk in your supermarket so you could try that instead, my Sainsbury’s had a divine selection of almond, oat or soy! If you’re lucky enough to have stashed some oats, you can also make your own oat milk. It’s amazingly easy to make, requiring only oats, water and a scrap of old fabric. The Minimalist Baker has a lovely simple blog and vlog for a guided How To.
Help I’ve run out of: tea/coffee
You know the drill… Head to a zero waste shop! Or, you can also use this opportunity as an excuse to spend money on some nice tea and/or coffee. There’s a whole load of divine small business tea and coffee companies out there, and most of them do a delivery or subscription service so you won’t even have to go near anyone else to get it.
Help I’ve run out of: toilet roll
Ohh dear, we are in trouble (Argus Filch Harry Potter reference for any fellow HP nerds out there), what are we to do without toilet paper?! Toilet paper is a first world luxury, so let’s consider what other options we have. You’re likely (don’t @ me) to be able to find some of the Who Gives A Crap or Greencane toilet paper in the aforementioned bulk food stores even though their online delivery services have blown up so much that they’ve stopped taking new customers. Convenience stores potentially may also have some stocks although these come in non-recyclable plastic wrap so it’s really a plastic-free living vs. wipe your butt and support a small business situation.
Have you considered installing a bidet? No joke, you could just wash after weeing? Or, hear me out, wee wipes. You know that t-shirt of your partners that you really want to get rid of? Cut it up into squares to make reusable loo roll! Start using your bathroom bin as a washing basket just for the fabric and after a couple of days chuck them all in the wash to be used again. Wee-wipe-wash, problem solved!
Help I’ve run out of: soap/shampoo/personal cleansing products
We can help you there… www.conscioushouselondon.com/shop
Lastly, I just want to remind you that the majority of us are ok. The empty supermarket shelves can be a scary scene (and zombie apocalypse movies/every scene of I Am Legend does not help our imaginations) but there are supplies. And, if all else fails, humans can survive up to three weeks without a single scrap of food so whilst there’s water coming from your tap and random snacks in your cupboard you’ll be just fine until everything calms down.
Written by: Rebecca Dallimore, Co-Founder