The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a massive rise in plastic pollution with some recent reports suggesting that around 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves are being used and disposed of every month. That’s a huge, scary number and a lot of those are already washing up on our beaches. But it’s not just the PPE that’s becoming a problem. We’ve taken a huge step backwards with our day to day use of single-use plastics thanks to the big coffee shops banning reusable cups, supermarkets reintroducing bags to their deliveries and some schools (including ours) insisting we buy plastic water bottles that get thrown away every day. As you can imagine this is not sitting well with me!
Admittedly, some of these things are beyond our control but there are still ways we can be eco-friendly during the coronavirus pandemic…
There are so many cloth masks available to buy plus hundreds of tutorials online if you fancy making your own. Put one in your handbag, one in the car and one by the front door, there’s no excuse for using throwaway masks!
I’ve seen a lot of people still using disposable gloves around the supermarket despite the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC) advising against them. It’s much better practice to forget the gloves, use the sanitizer provided at the exit then thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water when you get home. The ECDC even states in their report that “the generation of waste from unnecessary glove use causes environmental damage” and so should be avoided.
If possible avoid the plastic-fest that is home delivery, pop on your cloth mask and dig out your reusable shopping bags. When you’re wandering the aisles, try to be a little more conscious of the things that you’re buying. There are so many options in our supermarkets now so if budget allows then go for the pasta in a cardboard box rather than in the non-recyclable bag, for example. There is almost always a more eco-friendly option when you start looking. My kids love helping to choose the loose fruit & veg; simply weigh it, print the sticker and pop it in your reusable produce bags – no need for the flimsy ones provided!
Most of the big chains have put in place stringent policies across the board meaning practices like reusable tubs are no longer allowed at the Tesco meat counter and your trusty travel cup is refused at Costa. The good news is that your local independent shops and eateries have a little more leeway when it comes to their Covid processes so supporting them is a great way of avoiding the single use bags & cups that can be forced upon us. Check out your nearest independent coffee shop, head to the local butcher and pick up some eggs from the honesty box down the road.
We recently started getting our milk delivered and it is one of my favourite eco swaps so far! There’s something rather nostalgic and lovely about collecting the clinking glass bottles from your doorstep in the morning. I’ve also been toying with the idea of ordering an organic fruit & veg box from a local company but their veg isn’t locally produced so it seems a little pointless, to be honest. I can get the same foreign fruit in my weekly shop!
If you fancy organising a delivery have a look at the Soil Association website to see if there’s a veg box scheme near you and download the Dairydrop App to find a milkman. Not only are you avoiding all that extra packaging but you’re supporting hardworking locals, too.
It’s frustrating seeing the amount of discarded PPE in our environment and being told we need to throw plastic away but eco living is all about making small changes & doing what you can. Right now I have to buy crates of water for the kids to take to school, even if it means twitching and muttering like a mad woman in the aisles! But I shall be wearing a cloth mask and clutching my reusable bags while I do it. At the risk of sounding like a Tesco ad…every little helps!