Stay Plastic-Free During COVID-19 With These 4 Easy Tips
COVID-19 is a scary thing. It has had a severe impact on billions of people around the globe. Whether you are locked down or glued to your newsfeed, it seems like, lately, the discussion about the environment has had the back seat. But people still care about the environment. Maybe now, with more time on their hands even more than ever. A recent Instagram post with tips on sustainability during Corona by Sophie and Cami at Clean Miami Beach inspired me to write this post.
They published a list of 10 tips in their post here. I will distill it down to four easy tips and elaborate more on each one of them. But go ahead and check out their other suggestions for the full scoop!
Tip 1) Use Kitchen Gloves Instead of Disposable Ones
Let me say the most important thing first: in general, most people do not need to wear gloves. Neither disposable nor reusable.
There is a high risk of false security by wearing gloves. People might be more likely to touch their faces with gloves than without. This might increase the risk of transmission.
Only people who are in direct or indirect contact with patients who have COVID-19 should be wearing gloves—for example, people who are cleaning laundry or dishes, or any other items of COVID-19 patients. It is also advisable for people who are cleaning or disinfecting any surfaces.
If you can, wear kitchen gloves instead of disposable ones and clean them afterward. Medical workers should stick to disposable gloves as they will usually not have time enough to disinfect them properly after each use.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) manufacturer MCR Safety recommends to clean them as follows:
- Before you take off the gloves, wash them with soap and water, preferably at a utility sink or outdoors using a hose. You can also use mild liquid detergent in place of soap.
- Rinse the gloves thoroughly.
- Turn the gloves inside out, and soak the gloves in soap and water.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after you have rinsed and removed the gloves.
- Hang the gloves to dry thoroughly.
Here is a graphic from the CDC on how you should remove your gloves:
Tip 2) Rely on Your Reusable Shopping Bag
There has been a lot of debate about disposable versus reusable shopping bags lately, whether one is better, safer than the other. The truth is that as with many things around COVID-19, it is difficult to say anything with certainty yet.
A recent study (April 16th, 2020) published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found out that "SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard. [And the] viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surfaces".
In other words, plastic bags can be more infectious than your personal shopping bag if they weren't cleaned or have been contaminated before you used them.
When reusing your own shopping bag, you should, however, follow these best practices:
Wash your shopping bag before AND after each use. Use detergent and warm water to make sure to kill any contaminations. This way you are sure that your bag is virus-free when you go shopping. Be the person to bag your purchases and also the person to unpack them at home.
For extra safety, wipe down all purchases when back at home. Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN has a helpful video explaining his process of wiping down his groceries:
Tip 3) No Single-Use Plastics When Ordering Takeout
It is probably apparent to you, but I think it is still an essential idea to mention. Nowadays, more people are buying takeout - as opposed to eating in restaurants. When ordering your takeout food, tell the restaurant not to put any plastic cutlery or straws.
I am sure you have plenty of cutlery at home that you can use instead. The big bonus here is that eating with proper cutlery will also make you feel better.
We also recommend putting any takeout food on proper plates. It will make you feel better.
It would be best if you did not get or use any plastic straws with your drinks that you buy outside. We strongly recommend you use a reusable straw made from glass, silicone, or metal instead.
Tip 4) Use a Bamboo Toothbrush
At first, this idea struck me as a bit odd. Brushing teeth is not something that is a "new" or "different" habit.
Nevertheless, this is a super-easy way to lead a lower plastic life. It is nothing that is restricted in any way, shape, or form to follow. It does not have any negative implications for your health or safety. So we also strongly recommend using bamboo toothbrushes, with or without COVID-19. If you haven't tried them yet, maybe now is a good time to explore.
Despite COVID-19 and the many restrictions it brings to our lives, plastic-free life is far from over. We have shown you a few easy things you can do today to make your life less plastic dependent. You should check out Clean Beach Miami's full list of 10 tips. If you liked this post, please subscribe to our newsletter for more ideas, insights, and advice. We cover topics about a lifestyle with less plastic and more eco-friendliness - without compromising your lifestyle.