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Countries around the world remain driven by the goal of eventually reaching carbon neutrality. However, it must be kept in mind that ensuring a carbon-neutral world is a monumental task that requires time and continued effort. Without compromising one’s health and safety during the pandemic, there are certain steps that one can take without having to step out from the comfort of their own home, so as to ensure that the global fight against climate change remains undeterred.

Sustainable, not fast fashion

With brick-and-mortar shops shutting down due to COVID restrictions, online shopping has become the new norm. International brands like ZARA and H&M are transitioning towards using eco-friendly products for their clothing and accessory lines. Sustainable fashion focuses on using eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics that can be purchased just by the click of a button. Prices of products have been placed at a moderate range to cater to the growing demands of the diverse consumer market and popularise the trend of using sustainable goods.

Clean eating

The best way to keep oneself and the planet fit is by eating clean. Avoiding overpackaged products is a good start. The daily intake of processed meat like beef and pork is harmful to health and high in terms of carbon-emission content. Cooking food in a proportionate quantity not only saves energy but also prevents wastage. It is a well-known fact that food waste constitutes the major chunk of a city’s landfill and is a major source of methane emissions, that spikes up global warming.

Early to bed

Japan recently came up with a campaign where it urged its citizens to go to bed an hour early, thereby swapping late-night electricity with the next morning’s natural sunlight for about an extra hour or so. Rather than watching television late at night, one could start their day by working out and meditating in the comfort of one’s home as gyms remain inoperative or continue operating at half-capacity during the pandemic. The Japan model is one that is worthy of emulation and can help reduce carbon emissions. Unventilated bedrooms result in poor indoor air quality marked by a high carbon dioxide concentration. A bedroom with proper ventilation allows fresh outdoor air to flow inside, thereby reducing the carbon content in the air indoors. This ensures a better night’s sleep.

Indoor plants

One does not need to have abundant space in their homes to grow plants. There are small-potted plants available online and at a reasonable price, which are known to purify the air by relieving it of its carbon content. They are apt for small places like city flats and also add to the aesthetics of home décor. Plants such as the bird’s-nest fern and the peace lily have a calming appeal. Growing plants as a hobby helps to keep the mind relaxed and reduce the carbon footprint of one’s home simultaneously.

Carbon ‘pawprint’

Like any other member of the family, pets too add to the overall carbon footprint of one’s home. Using organic and eco-friendly grooming products helps towards keeping pets safe and making the planet greener. Buying chew toys made out of rubber provide an eco-friendly alternative to the ones that are made out of plastic. Further, vets recommend low-meat and low-lactose intake, so as to meet a pet’s dietary requirements. Chicken, eggs, and vegetables like carrots and beans emit lesser carbons and make meals richer in terms of nutritional value and help reduce a pet’s carbon pawprint.

Lower electricity bills

With work from home and online classes becoming the new normal, households have witnessed a steep rise in their energy consumption. LED bulbs are a wise buy given their long lifespan of around 20 years. Light dimmers help one to adjust lighting conditions accordingly, preventing any unnecessary wastage of energy. Steps such as keeping plug points off when phones and laptops have finished charging and not keeping washroom lights switched on throughout the night, might be small steps but highly effective ones nonetheless, when it comes to keeping electricity bills in check and ensuring a low-carbon planet.

The ongoing pandemic has come to present itself as a huge obstacle in the fight against climate change. It has shifted the primary focus of world governments to other matters, relating to health concerns. Rising numbers of COVID cases have strained economies and slowed down the progress that has been achieved on the road to sustainability. But thankfully, global citizens are still pressing governments to move forward towards a greener future.

Prarthana Sen is a former Research Assistant at ORF, an independent global think tank. Her research interests include gender, sustainable development, forced displacement, and development cooperation. She is also a member of the Indian Association for Asian and Pacific Studies.