The pandemic has caused such a massive shift in people’s way of life. From millions of people now working from home to shutting down social gatherings for the foreseeable future, the pandemic has impacted so many parts of our lives.
But it’s important to remember that the pandemic is impacting the environment, too. Despite nearly half of Americans believing their plastic consumption didn’t change during the pandemic, recycling collection increased by 20 percent.
So if people don’t think their plastic consumption changed, why do the numbers disagree? It’s likely that many people just don’t realize how much plastic they are truly consuming — from opting for reusable face masks to minimizing takeout packaging, here are ways to be more conscious about all the ways we add to the plastic pandemic.
- Go for Reusable Face Masks
Single-use PPE was hugely popular at the start of the pandemic, but we’re at a point now where reusable face masks are gaining traction because they are more environmentally friendly (and more affordable over time). Instead of buying boxes on boxes of reusable masks, opt for eco-conscious reusable masks to save the single-use PPE for those who really need it, like frontline hospital workers.
- Reduce Your Takeout Packaging
Since many restaurants are closed for dining in, takeout has been on the rise. However, this amount of single-use takeout packaging can really add up. To minimize your impact while still getting some of your favorite foods, be sure to ask for no bag or plastic cutlery so you get only the essentials. Additionally, only order condiments you need or opt for home versions when you can. While it may not be possible to bring your own tupperware, you can ask for compostable boxes or reuse plastic containers once you bring them home to stop the chain of landfill dumping.
- Bring Reusable Bags
Reusable bags aren’t really a new concept to many people. However, during the pandemic, some retailers aren’t allowing reusable bags to minimize germs. In this situation, the easy option is just to go for disposable plastic bags — but did you know that the average family uses 1,500 plastic bags per year? While it might feel like you’re using plastic bags “just this time”, each of those times can really add up.
Instead of using plastic bags, put your items back in your cart or basket and bag them outside the store. Many retailers are setting out “bagging tables” outside to make this process easier. While it takes a few more minutes, mother earth will thank you for it.
- Buy Reusable Water Bottles
Reusable water bottles are gaining popularity, and nowadays, you can even get trendy reusable water bottles where you can showcase your style while staying hydrated. Seeing as people spend an average of $266 on disposable water bottles per year, switching to a reusable bottle, which cost around $20 to $40, can make a big impact on your wallet over time.
It’s clear that reusable is the name of the game with reducing your environmental footprint. Minimizing your environmental impact takes conscious effort, but if everyone takes small steps to do their part, we could be on a path to minimizing the damage of the plastic pandemic.