April 16, 2020

COVID-19 101: How to stay safe, healthy, and eco-friendly

We are currently living through some extraordinary times, where all of us are experiencing significant changes to our everyday lives. 

But even in the face of such extraordinary times, we can make a conscious choice to make the most of this situation – especially for those of us privileged enough to safely stay indoors at a place we can call home. Take advantage of this time to do some much-delayed house cleaning, expand your culinary mastery, or just bank more quality time with yourself or your loved ones. 

On that note, I would like to share with you 5 simple tips taken from Greenpeace Hong Kong’s COVID-19 101 booklet to stay safe, healthy, and eco-friendly through this global pandemic and beyond. Check them out below:


1. Buffer Zone vs Living Zone

Dividing your home into a “Buffer Zone” and a “Living Zone” can help lower the risk of bringing the virus into your house. Simply, the Buffer Zone is the area between the entrance and the living space (ex. entrance hall), and the Living Zone is the area you eat and live in (ex. dining room, bedroom). Be sure to remove any items that may have come into contact with the virus – such as your shoes and outerwear – in the Buffer Zone to prevent the virus being carried into your clean Living Zone. Consider placing a laundry hamper or a trash bin in the Buffer Zone for convenience.

Doing this little pre-planning means less areas to clean, which means using less cleaning products, which in turn means less negative impact on our environment. Win, win, win!


Leave items that may have come in contact with the virus – like your shoes – in the “Buffer Zone” to reduce the risk of bringing the virus into your house. © Gett

2.Be a responsible *paw-rent*

There have been a few reports of dogs and cats testing positive for COVID-19. But according to the World Health Organisation (WTO), there is not enough evidence of cats, dogs, or other pets transmitting COVID-19 to humans as of now. Regardless, be sure to give them a little extra TLC for both your and your pets’ safety! Get the lowdown from this helpful Q& from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The most basic thing you can do is to wash your hands before and after caring for your pet, like when preparing their meals or giving a bath. After your pet does their doo-doo business, be sure to disinfect the area thoroughly to make sure your pooch or kitty does not accidentally lick up cleaning product residue. 

Last but not least, this one is a no brainer: if you’re feeling ill, it’s best practice to avoid close contact with your snuggle buddies. It is very important to keep physical distancing for everyone’s safety.


The cutest employee at the Greenpeace UK office in London, UK. (2019) © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

3. Choose to slow the spread

With the combination of frequent hand washing and physical distancing, wearing a face mask can help to slow the spreading of the virus, according to supporting researchMask usage has become common practice in many Asian countries since the onset of COVID-19, and more recently, the UFranc, and parts of Ital have also urged their citizens to wear “alternative” masks – such as cloth face coverings.

If and when you’re wearing one, here are some simple tips to properly wear your mask:

  • Choose the correct mask size for your face.
  • Wash your hands before you put on the mask.
  • The mask must fit snugly on your face. Press the top part of the mask tightly over the bridge of your nose, and pull the mask all the way down over your chin. Your nose, mouth, and chin should be well-covered.
  • After putting on the mask, try to avoid touching it for hygienic reasons. If you do touch it – to take it off, for example – be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Most importantly, be sure to properly dispose of your used masks in the trash bin, and do not litter on the streets or in any public space! Such action is not only irresponsible but also pollutes the environment and helps the virus to spread even more.
With the combination of frequent hand washing, wearing a mask can help to protect you as well as those around you, according to supporting research. © Getty

4. More veggies, please!

Physical distancing means more time at home, which in turn means more time to cook! It’s the perfect opportunity to expand your culinary mastery and get on the healthy diet train by eating more veggies and less animal products. To learn why a plant-based diet might be the right choice for you, check out this interview.

A report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the agricultural and animal husbandry industries make up about 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal products making up about 58% of all carbon dioxide emissions from the food industry.

So for tonight’s dinner, try swapping out your meat with some vegetables and legumes, and kickstart that plant-based diet for yourself and our planet. If you’re feeling extra inspired, here are some Greenpeace-approved recipes  to jazz up your meals.

In December 2019, Greenpeace Korea hosted an end of year party with 50 volunteers and made traditional Korean dish – kimchi – using a vegan recipe. CREDIT: © Soojung Do / Greenpeace

5. Let’s get physical

Binging on your favourite tv show for uninterrupted hours accompanied by your delicious vice of choice can be glorious. But because we’re probably in this pandemic for the long-haul, don’t forget to get up and move around once in awhile to maintain your health.

On top of eating healthier meals, there are plenty of ways to stay active at home. Perhaps it’s that time to get started on spring cleaning? Maybe you’re ready to kick some major butt with that online kickboxing class. If you’re lucky and have a yard, try your hand at gardening; you might have a green thumb! Or just take it easy and do some gentle stretching while binging on your show. Whatever you choose to do, your house is your oyster.

Be sure to stay active while you’re home. Take it easy with some gentle stretching or go all out with a full-body workout. © Getty

No one knows when this pandemic will be done for good. But for now, do your part: show love by keeping physical distance from those you care about; step out of your comfort zone to reach out to those who may need that extra support; most of all, express gratitude (digitally) to those who are on the frontlines every single day.

Last but not least, hit the pause button and take some time for self-care. You deserve it.

by Jiyun Choi :