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Living Naturally During COVID-19

March 26, 2020

Suddenly, we found that our world has been turned upside-down, shaken up and spilled of anything resembling normalcy as we knew it. As we adjust to a different—and hopefully very temporary—way of life, I mourn those lost to COVID-19, wish a full recovery to those who have fallen ill, and hope that the rest of us are staying well by staying home whenever possible and practicing common sense social distancing to combat this virus.

Humans are resilient, and we’re finding creative ways to adjust to different lifestyles. The current stay-at-home order still permits people to get outdoors to get fresh air and exercise, which can be essential for our physical and mental health. Milwaukee’s vast lakefront parks are spacious and would typically allow room to enjoy lakefront beauty while still practicing social distancing; however, with many people home and getting antsy, along with a stretch of mild spring weather, popular parks such as Bradford Beach and South Shore Park have so far proven to be too crowded to adhere to safe social distancing.

Larger lakefront parks such as Lake Park or Grant Park might allow for better social distancing, as would neighborhood parks like Washington, Brown Deer, Dretzka, Jackson, Greenfield and Lincoln, each spanning more than 100 acres. Visit for park addresses and Google directions. (Note: park facilities and playgrounds are closed during the COVID-19 crisis).

The human and economic cost of the COVID-19 crisis is devastating, but this is also predicted to have an environmental impact. While fewer vehicles on the roads has temporarily reduced air pollution, grocery stores and retailers have prohibited reusable grocery and produce bags due to possible virus transmission. Try to ask for paper bags instead of plastic whenever possible, which will eventually decompose, unlike plastic.

Other tips:

We still have water everywhere! To date, no municipality in the Milwaukee area has reported issues with drinking water quality, so consider skipping bottled water; a commodity that has been panic-purchased in large quantities, along with toilet paper and certain foods. Those single-use plastic bottles add up to a glut of litter (and no, they don’t always get recycled).

Speaking of toilet paper, I’ve noticed that in addition to a run on TP, the shelves have also been cleared of “flushable” wipes. They are not flushable, despite what the package claims. They cause backups in the system, get caught in sewer laterals and contribute to a buildup of foreign materials in the water processing system. If you must use wipes, dispose of them in the wastebasket.

Take up baking as a new hobby. Cooking and baking meals from scratch is not only healthier but reduces plastic packaging. You can still “stock up” with homemade foods; meals such as homemade lasagna, casseroles, soups and stews can be made in large quantities and freeze well, as do dessert items like homemade cookie dough.

Disposable cleaning cloths come in handy for wiping down computer keyboards or other delicate or intricate surfaces. But like anything disposable, it eventually ends up in a landfill. To sanitize larger bathroom and kitchen surfaces, mix bleach and water (see the Center for Disease Control’s formula and directions here in a bucket and use a clean rag to apply to surfaces. Wash rags with soap and hot water in the washing machine after each use.

May good health, courage and resilience be with you during this crisis. Together, we can beat this. Be well!

Sheila Julson is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.


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