From Virginie Helias, P&G’s Chief Sustainability Officer
Like many of you, I can’t remember the last time I spent so much time at home. The coronavirus crisis has made some things simpler and others vastly more challenging – time seems distorted, we feel the need to simplify our lives and rituals have become important to give us a sense of control. And as we spend more time at home caring for our own and our families’ physical and mental health, we are changing our habits in ways that impact ourselves, our homes and the world around us.
A recent survey of people in the United States and in the United Kingdom showed that, across the board, people are encountering new challenges when it comes to making sustainable choices. Home water use – particularly hot water – has increased for nearly three quarters of people and nearly half have increased their energy consumption. More than half of households have increased their use of products that come in cans and plastic packaging, which means many are also struggling to manage the increase in their recycling needs.
Yet even in the face of a crisis, when our focus tends to be on our most essential needs, the majority of those surveyed said they were still attuned to what they could do to achieve sustainability while spending much more time at home. Some mentioned a greater awareness of how fragile our world is, while others said that being at home more often made them realize how much energy, plastic and other resources they’re using – and that they want to do something to address it.
We’re all more aware than ever that what we do and how we behave matters. We all want to make a difference. That’s why we’re staying home whenever we can. But as we’re staying safe, we have an opportunity to look more closely at how the shifts in our home routines can impact our planet, and how small, mindful acts can make a lasting difference.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this, even in the context of my own home. We currently have a full house, with my three children, who would normally be at university, home with us. We’ve had to adjust to living together again but also to new cleaning and hygiene routines. We wash our hands more often, we run the dishwasher twice a day (versus every other day in normal times) and there is more laundry. So, I am increasingly aware of the changes in our home energy and water use, not to mention more packaging from delivery of food and other essentials. This confinement experience is truly an accelerator for understanding how to live well within the planetary boundaries.
I’m happy to share that, in the coming weeks, P&G’s sustainability experts – and a few special guests – will be sharing simple tips around “Sustainability at Home.” For example, did you know that running the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand can save water, even when there are as few as eight dishes in a load? Or that using advanced haircare products like foam conditioners help people reduce the amount of time they spend rinsing their hair, which can save up to four gallons of water? What’s good for us can be good for the planet too!
This extraordinary situation is an opportunity for all of us to embrace our vulnerability and new sense of connectedness to others and the planet to re-imagine a better tomorrow. It starts with us, here and now, in our homes.