Finding essentials while at home with the kids - ordering online

What a year this week has been! As we're quarantined for 14 days, we've been brainstorming about relevant and helpful subjects to write about for during these testing times with the coronavirus or COVID-19 (which word is even the right one to use there?). One thing I do know is it's turning all our lives upside down, and it's pretty tricky to try to work from home and keep the kids amused at the same time.

We decided from this personal experience that it's great to keep busy, and it's even greater when we can make suggestions for eco-friendly projects for the whole family if stuck in quarantine or locked in at home during social distancing. We've come up with some great ideas and those will be published over the next few weeks (suggestions welcome in the comments below too), but as we were doing our research, we discovered something we decided we wanted to share quickly - because helping people make better and eco-friendly choices in their homes and day-to-day life is all part of what we do but especially so at the moment.

Ordering stuff online is getting hard!

As soon as we started looking online for products we would need, to check stock and make sure our suggestions were going to be possible to do, we were suprised to see how many products online were out of stock or on extended delivery. (And ok, we may have been tempted to do a few searches for essentials while we were there, because SO many supermarkets don't even tell you when they are out of an item until only a quarter of your order turns up!) Anyhow...

Maybe some folks are being a little selfish and over-ordering toilet rolls, sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, but smart door locks? Really?? Wow, ok...

While we were searching to see if we could get around this to find some shortcuts and tips on how to track down essential products online, we stumbled across the following useful hack -

Amazon has prioritized certain products

Amazon is the worlds biggest online retailer, unless you just crawled out of your Y2K meltdown bunker, I figure you know that, right?

Anyhow - to try to keep essential products in stock, and to get them to those who need them ASAP it turns out they have prioritized product lines they consider 'essential'. The good news for those of us looking for products to use for great eco-friendly and green DIY shelter in place projects is that some of these categories overlap with stuff we might be looking for. 

And here's the thing - what we found is, that when we did searches on Amazon, the same products were often listed multiple times and depending if we clicked on the 'right' or 'wrong' listing, this could dramatically change both the cost and the length of delivery.

Amazon prime free trial

Also worth remembering, is that when you take a free trial with Amazon Prime this adds a whole group of products available with free delivery, special offers and gives easier and free returns on certain products which is always useful - plus, while we're all stuck in the house, it also let's us watch films and programs on Prime Video! If we were ever going to get our money's worth, it would be now...

How to find in-stock essentials online on Amazon

So, for convenience, we've already generated the links below to take you directly to the product groups that are considered 'essentials' on Amazon and we were really pleased to find this includes a lot of useful items that can save energy or be used for green home improvement projects to keep us busy.

To show how this works, first of all let's look at some examples: since there's no point taking screenshots for the forseeable future, as it's constantly changing, we suggest actually doing this in realtime by going directly to Amazon using the links below. This will open a new tab and then just follow the instructions. 

For items like Smart Home products, thermostats, radon detectors, radon alarms, door locks, light controllers etc click here

Amazon search bar for finding essential products in stock right price
For this search, make sure you keep the setting on the left to 'Industrial & Scientific'

Using the search bar and being careful not to change the product group from Industrial & Scientific for this example, put the actual item you're looking for in the search bar and click on the magnifying glass on the right. Any product that you find in this section is likely to be in stock, or available to order with a delivery in days rather than months, as suppliers can still send stock to Amazon's warehouses. This can be super useful for face masks, safety spec's and filters as well if you're a woodworker or use hazardous materials and can't find them elsewhere at the moment.

So what else does Amazon consider essential?

 We've put links below to all the areas where we have found essential items that Amazon has pledged to replenish stocks as quickly as possible. We found eco & hypoallergenic laundry detergent & moisturizer under baby stuff, these great laundry detergent strips here and here, wipes under Baby Products and in Health & Household, we found a few sanitizers and priority products in personal-care appliances that made some of the team chuckle.

Last but not least, Beauty & Personal Care showed up a few surprise items including makeup wipes with alcohol which would probably be better than nothing if you have to make essential journeys which involve touching things. But - we're not saying this makes anything safe, because who knows, right?

Home Improvement & Tools classed Essential are here

Home & Kitchen classed Essential are here

Grocery Items classed Essential are here

Health & Personal Care item classed Essential are here

Pet Foods & Products classed Essential are here

One thing we'd struggled to find locally online was pet food - thankfully Amazon is also looking after that area. But here's a little known fact: did you know there are around 7000 dogs around Amazon headquarters that folks are actually encouraged to bring to work? We discovered this while in Seattle recently at the USGBC LEED Net Zero training...  we sure loved that!

J:\Images\For Optimizing\Life Hack Amazon Video Images\Rufus_on_his_favorite_windowsill_looking_out_over_Seattle_in_Amazon_Head_Office
Rufus keeps an eye on Seattle from his favorite windowsill at Amazon - all companies should let dogs come to work... (Hint to the bosses)

A footnote during this difficult time

We wanted to take this opportunity to convey to our Ecohome members and readers the importance of reliable online information about coronavirus and COVID-19. Please exercise good judgment when looking for information about COVID-19 and we refer readers to the World Health Organization website for accurate information. Alternatively, in the US, refer to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website. In Canada, you should look on the Canadian Government site here

Take care out there please, protect yourselves, and even better, stay home except for the essential trips out. Keep in touch, and most of all, be kind and thoughtful - we're all scared of the unknown, and that's ok. Let's pull together and Stop the Curve by Sheltering in Place. #stopthecurve #shelterinplace.

For those who have to go out for supplies, remember to check with older friends, neighbors or family members to see if you can pick up supplies for them on the way. And a message to the younger generation - if you are in a grocery store with older people, please given them an extra wide berth, and consider letting them cut in line so they can get out of there quicker. This is a lot scarier for them. 

To all the awesome healthcare professionals out there on the front lines, and the essential workers who are keeping the basics running that society has often overlooked, we are indebted to you. 

If you've got any ideas or feedback, or even requests - please post them in the comments below and we will try to help. The virus will pass, but we hope the kindness we are showing for each other will stick around. 

Beautiful North America
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