Zero-waste living has been a recurring topic on our blog. In our post How to Live a Zero Waste Lifestyle we identified what exactly zero waste means and discussed some simple ways for beginning to transition to this type of lifestyle. However, much has changed due to COVID-19. From the things we are and are no longer allowed to do, to the habits we’ve been forced to reevaluate and more than likely change, there seem to be very few aspects of daily life that have been unaffected in some way.
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into how the zero-waste movement has been impacted by the coronavirus, and what we can each do to generate less waste even during a pandemic.
How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Zero-Waste Movement
Thanks to the current pandemic, we are not allowed to abide by a lot of eco-friendly practices we are used to. The reusable container policy at most grocery stores has been temporarily suspended, reusable grocery bags and bins are also no longer permitted, most coffee shops have paused the use of personal mugs, and the sharing economy (including swap and shop businesses, thrift stores, and clothing rentals) has been at a standstill. Not to mention that, everywhere you do end up going in order to pick up essentials, you’re handed single-use antibacterial wipes.
The pandemic has ultimately caused most of us to revert back to single-use material in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
What You Can Do to Reduce or Eliminate Waste During a Pandemic
While a widespread increase in the use of plastic bags could be troubling, there are other ways to maintain environmentally friendly habits. Below we’ve outlined some great tips for how to maintain a zero-waste or reduced-waste lifestyle during this challenging time.
1. Reduce food waste
It’s safe to say this has been a financially challenging time for the majority of the population. Many people have experienced job loss and/or reduced income. So, it’s as important as ever to use up every last bit of food we have rather than waste it. Want to learn more about how to reduce your food waste? Check out our blog post How to Properly Store Fruits and Vegetables.
2. Wear a reusable mask
It’s critical that we all wear masks that cover our noses and mouths when in public places, or when we are within 6 feet of those not living in the same household in order to slow the transmission of the virus. So it may come as no surprise that over the last several months, more and more single use masks and latex gloves have been ending up as litter and have started to make their way into our rivers and to the ocean.
By choosing to make or purchase a reusable mask instead of a single-use alternative, you can help reduce the growing waste stream of landfilled personal protective equipment or the devastating environmental impacts of plastic waste. When reusable personal protective equipment is unavailable, waste such as used masks, gloves, tissues, and disinfectant wipes should always go into the garbage. These items are light and can be carried away by the wind, or end up in the streets and waterways, so make sure to tightly tie them up in garbage bags.
3. Place an emphasis on energy efficiency
Now’s the perfect time to start making some energy-efficient changes around your house, since you’re likely at home more often. Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs where possible and install a programmable thermostat. Use the sun to dry your clothes instead of the dryer. Locate your workspace near a window to reduce your need for artificial lighting throughout the day.
4. Reuse as much as possible throughout the home
Reusing goods and packaging as many times as possible, instead of disposing of them and buying new ones, prevents energy and resources from being spent on manufacturing and shipping new stuff. It keeps older items out of landfills and oceans and is one of the greenest practices there is.
5. Keep using reusables at home
As you’re probably spending quite a lot of time at home, this should not be difficult to do. Opt for dining with real silverware, plateware, and cups, and fill up your reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Other Ways to Maintain Habits of Sustainability
Regardless of how long the coronavirus epidemic lasts, the issue of environmental degradation, climate change, and plastic pollution will still be with us when it subsides, so it’s important that we all continue to apply our sustainability habits whenever possible. The above are some of the ways we can maintain a zero-waste or reduced-waste lifestyle throughout the corona pandemic.
If you’re interested in exploring other ways that you can reduce waste and help promote a healthy environment, then be sure to browse through the Spring Power & Gas website to learn about our eco-minded electricity products and sustainability initiatives.