As physical distancing measures continue and more people are forced to stay home, now is a great time to go back to basics, says Brock University Professor Liette Vasseur.
“Many people are living simpler lives and focusing more on necessities during this time, which provides us with a unique opportunity to closely assess our consumption patterns and ecological footprints,” she says. “While the current limitations will not be in place forever, we can use this time to assess what is critically important to our daily lives and what, ultimately, we can live without or do differently when things start to return to normal. This can help reduce waste and lessen our impact on the planet in the future.”
People can also do more than they think — and with less — during this unusual time, Vasseur points out. She believes many people have either abandoned or never learned traditional skills such as sewing or gardening because it was never a necessity or came with a time commitment.
“Engaging in these simple and practical hobbies can help you to stay busy, connect more deeply with nature and your surroundings, and give a boost to your mental health,” she says.
Home gardening is a relatively inexpensive, educational and practical hobby that the household can do together. For families with kids, it’s also a great way to keep the little ones entertained while learning some basics about natural systems and sharpening math and science skills.
“Gardening allows you to learn about different growing seasons, what grows well in Canada and what is needed to sustain their growth,” Vasseur says. “It also teaches you what it takes to grow the food we eat every day.”
The activity isn’t restricted to those with large backyards or access to expensive equipment, either.
“Even someone in an apartment with a small balcony or a spot next to a window with lots of natural light can grow their own plants,” she says. “You can reuse some of the things you already have at home, such as poking a few holes in the bottom of an old yogurt container and then adding some soil and the seeds of your choice.”
Vasseur suggests starting off slow with a few easy-to-care-for varieties at first, such as radishes or living lettuce. She also encourages people to apply the knowledge gained about plant life cycles while gardening to contribute to citizen science initiatives like PlantWatch in the future.