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Henry David Thoreau, a philosopher, writer and transcendentalist, lived by the concept that life was so much more than the material world and always advocated to do the right thing no matter the situation. One of the ways in which he fought for the things he believed in was through raising awareness of being environmentally conscious.

As we know today, being eco-friendly is more than a trend. It is a concept to take very seriously and one which we must all begin to implement in our daily lives. Especially at a time like this one, during a global pandemic where many feel impotent that our planet is in trouble and yet can’t go out and make change happen given the current circumstances. Thus, here are 10 ways in which you can still cultivate an eco-friendly lifestyle while also being safe.

1. When going shopping, try to be frugal.

With the health risks associated with exposing yourself too much, it may be hard to go to yard sales, estate sales or even stores such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army. There are the online alternatives to second-hand physical shopping such as Depop and Poshmark, but you can do something as simple as asking your parents, siblings or roommates if there are any items that they would like to exchange with you and see what cool finds you can take.

2. Dispose of your face mask properly.

When the single-use surgical mask is disposed of, they often don’t make it to the litter bin and instead end up in natural habitats where the strands may end up tangled around ducks’ feet or maybe even swallowed by fish. The simple solution to this problem is to rip the strands of your disposable masks before you throw them out and make sure they do make it to the litter bin, or simply use reusable masks.

3. Use a reusable water bottle.

This is one of the most common and basic forms of helping the environment. It is so simple and actually easier than constantly buying single-use plastic bottles. It helps you keep hydrated during the day and prevents you from potentially spreading the disease or contracting it from another person while in the store.

4. Try to bike instead of driving when possible.

If you live in an area where riding a bicycle is an option, use it as your main form of transportation. This gives you the flexibility of not having to depend on another person to take you places where an exchange of germs may occur, while also decreasing your personal carbon footprint.

5. Incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

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Vegetables and legumes are a great source of numerous nutrients, minerals and vitamins. These are always needed in our bodies, but especially now during a pandemic to help keep our immune systems strong and healthy.

6. Use reusable utensils if possible.

Like single-use bottles, single-use utensils are mostly made of plastic, a material that allows COVID-19 to survive on its surface for up to 3 days. It is also the no. 1 cause of pollution in our oceans, making it a specifically important thing to avoid.

7. Go paperless.

When they ask you if you'd like a receipt at a store, you may simply say no if you don't really need it. Most of the time, the receipt can be sent to you through a simple text or email. It would be saving paper and again, avoiding your physical contact with others and the potential spread of germs among each other.

8. Turn off the lights during the day and use daylight.

This is a concept so simple, which we have been told since we were kids. In terms of COVID-19, this concept allows you to get the sunlight we need and in turn, vitamin D, which fortifies your bones, keeping you strong and healthy.

9. Use reusable bags.

This gives you the benefit to not use plastic bags, fitting more things from your shopping trips (because reusable bags tend to be bigger than plastic ones), and again, prevent you from coming into contact with others who may potentially spread or to whom you may spread this disease.

10. Start making crafts and decorations from old materials that you have around your house.

If you are bored because you can't leave your house, start making crafts and decorations from old materials that you have around your house. With a single-use plastic water bottle, some old newspapers, skewers and paint you can make a beautiful vase of flowers!

Today millions of people implement small actions as these into their daily activities to try and reduce their impact on the planet. Even though in modern times it may be a bit harder to follow Thoreau's advice thoroughly, we know how important it is and still do our best to follow in the basic principles that he tried to instill in his society and future generations like ours, those of caring for others and taking care of the place we call home.

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Cynthia is a senior working toward obtaining a degree in International Relations, and two minors in Geography and Economics from Florida State University. She loves to watch historical documentaries, read, and cook in her spare time. You can also find her outside exploring nature or inside spending time with family and friends, and occasionally imagining a life in the South of France.
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