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Life Changes for a Pandemic and Beyond

It’s hard to believe that only a year ago that crazy, panic-shopping erupted worldwide, with consumers fighting over items like toilet paper. It didn’t take long for my husband and I to discuss what sort of life-changes we needed to make in order to do our part to save resources and money.

We had to think and act fast, so we did.

The first order of business was to recognize our facial tissue addiction. It was not unusual to see one box of tissues gone after a day and a half in our house. Like many products snatched off the shelves, it was indeed facial tissue that would be our biggest problem.

So, we purchased a couple of dozen handkerchiefs. More than half were bandanas, meant for my husband to use “now and then”, and to throw in the wash. For me, I chose some soft cotton ones for light uses. (For uglier, messier moments, then sure, we grab a tissue.) This has cut down our spending on facial tissues considerably. Having a hanky has become a routine, and is so much nicer than tissue anyway.

Secondly, we had a soda-pop issue. Not only that, but our flavour-preferences were becoming almost impossible to find. Before the pandemic, it would be quite normal for us to have several cases of pop stacked up in our storage room. With many companies easing off on production of certain items and flavours of consumables, we learned very quickly that our “tastes” were being edged out.

We purchased a SodaStream® sparkling-water maker, and the flavours that we preferred. While other people stocked up on pop, which would take up space, and from what I could see – were no longer offering sale prices, we found that making our own pop at home was not only cheaper, but our pop remained fresh and the flavours were just as good if not better than the giant soda manufacturers’ flavours. To date, a 1L bottle of most Coca-Cola products is about $2.50 CDN. My 1L bottle of pop is no more than 75¢. (Yes, we had to initially pay for the soda machine for $100, however with the money I save on pop, after no more than two months, the machine paid for itself.)

Next, what do we do about our love for pizza?! We loved ordering out at least twice a month to have a pizza while watching something special on television. Pizza, I quickly realized, was a very personal, hands-on creation made by food-workers who I had no way of supervising. This bothered me quite a bit, but since I had purchased a few jars of yeast to make bread (as did a lot of people), I decided to try my hand at making homemade pizza.

Believe me, I made a lot of mistakes, and it took a few different recipes to finally combine ideas from each one, including some good old-fashioned culinary advice from my Uncle Cliff before I was on the road to making the best deep-dish pizza I’ve ever had. With my own clean hands and ingredients, I know what I’m making, and bake it to my satisfaction. Also, the cost comparison makes me wonder why it took a pandemic to do this, as I wished I had done it all along. To date, a large pizza from Panago is approximately $20.00 CDN. My pizza is no more than $3.00.

Next, my hair. Pre-pandemic, I was dropping about $200 per visit at a salon only to have the stylist not do what I asked them to do, with pictures to prove it. I was also being royally ripped off as I was getting charged the “long-hair fee” for colour, all the while having a shag haircut, whereby the actual colour is being applied on short-to-medium length sections of my hair. I can understand charging me the long-hair fee for a cut, and blow-dry and styling, but not colour. Come on.

So, with no hair salon open for a stylist to piss me off anyway, I took matters into my own hands. I purchased a box of bleach, toner, a mixing bowl, and a paddle brush. (I already owned proper hair-cutting scissors, and was already snipping my own hair.) My $200 visit turned into a $15 job. Not only that, but I saved on the travel time and fuel, and the brutal waiting around in a salon chair while the product was activating. At home, I foiled my own bleach, and either sat down to watch television or do something productive around the house while I waited. My first application required a redo, but after I got the hang of it, I realized that I was doing a better job than any stylist. A friend of my mom’s who is a licensed hair-stylist obtained for me a proper can of Schwarzkopf so I could mix what I needed, whenever I needed to. This means my $15 worth of product went down even less, as I was finding that the box of bleach was being half-wasted. I use approximately 22 grams of product (bleach and developer) which is about $7-$10’s worth. Coming down from my original $200, where I’d leave the salon in tears, this was a no-brainer. I should have been doing this years ago.

Finally, a personal problem for me that still affects our monthly budget is of course my feminine products. Throughout my adult life I had been uncomfortably using store-bought waxy, plasticky materials that made me dread my time of the month. As someone with heightened senses, the feel of anything synthetic constantly upset me.

So, I thought about how women managed their time of the month before the usage of disposable products, and looked in to washable, reusable pads. You would be amazed to know how much information is out there about these products, and how differently they can be made. I did a lot of research, and found exactly the right product for myself, and purchased enough for each menstruation. The result after using them had me thinking again, why didn’t I do this ages ago? They were soft, velvety, and felt wonderful. They were easy to clean, and they cost about the same amount of money as six months’ worth of disposable pads.

Some changes that we made in life were already implemented before the pandemic. For example, I was already cooking every meal, baked bread, kept a vegetable garden, and we always have fresh-brewed coffee made from our own coffee maker. My husband already built his own home-gym, and he never had to worry about sharing equipment with anyone or paying any membership fees. We already were thinking about how to sustain certain things, living away from the city, as we do.

These little changes that we’ve made have not only been pleasantly welcome, but they have taken away some burden of costs and resources. It’s hard to believe it took something as awful as a world-wide pandemic to make us see how these changes could benefit us. Now we know, and with a shift in our attitudes, we are now always seeking for better ways to live our lives.



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