By: Elena Zevallos
This year has been a somewhat stressful year, for obvious reasons. But it’s also been stressful for anyone who cares about our environment. While Covid-19 allowed a brief period of relief for the planet from some human impacts - such as carbon-emissions and crowds of people - there has been a massive increase in plastic pollution. We’ve seen millions of masks, gloves and hand sanitizers being used and disposed at a mass global scale on a daily basis. Grocery stores have prohibited the use of reusable bags and coffee shops, reusable cups. Restaurants are only offering their food in plastic containers along with plastic bags and single-use utensils. It has become a real nightmare for the environmental community. And so with this year’s plastic-free July, we can benefit from two options of how we may choose to take part in this campaign:
Try to make lifestyle adjustments that can compensate for the influx of single-use items during these past few months. How can you offset the impact by limiting your intake in another plastic product? Can you make use out of the plastic containers or bags that you may have kept, and perhaps clean it out and get creative with it?
Engage others in partaking in this challenge along with you. Help people become aware of the amount of single-use waste that’s being discarded millions of times a day on a global scale. As you commit to this plastic-free July, help your friends and family (and anyone else) commit as well!
Hygienic essentials are necessary in order to ensure we collectively combat this virus. We need masks, gloves and hand sanitizers in order to maintain our health. And yet, the swift response made by big businesses shows how under prepared they’ve been when it comes to manufacturing alternative, eco-friendly hygiene products. Our global industries’ only solution of keeping people safe is to make more plastic products - instead of coming up with an alternative - has led to this steady rise in plastic waste. Nations such as Thailand, who earlier this year planned to cut back on their plastic usage, have witnessed an inevitably dramatic increase in it instead. While so much of the world is awake and aware of our society’s irresponsible impacts on the planet, Covid-19 has put us in a position of cognitive dissonance - I want to be healthy, but I want the environment to be healthy as well!
So the question we need to ask ourselves is, how can I get creative and come up with everyday solutions to make up for the amount of plastic our industries have massively produced these past few months? How can I look for ways to benefit both myself and the planet and create a win-win solution?
It can be as simple as having a couple or more of cloth masks that you alternate between and purchasing a bottle of sanitizer made out of recyclable materials. And maybe offset the increased plastic pollution by walking/biking more and composting your food scraps. Maybe gather your friends for a park or beach clean-up. Make it fun and encouraging!
Solutions are everywhere. Even though most of us don’t have much control over what franchise corporations make their products out of, we do have control over how we make an impact as individuals. So put some good thought into that this July!