1. Anti-soap hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer was in high demand around the world during 2020, but the 70 percent alcohol gel, which kills bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19), often comes in a plastic bottle.
To reduce your plastic consumption, consider switching to a bar of soap and warm water for hand washing.
Soap bars can often be found in fully biodegradable packaging, making the environmental impact significantly less than hand sanitizer.
Alternatively, opting for refillable liquid soap will allow you to cut down on your plastic consumption without major lifestyle changes.
For you to follow handwashing advice, the government states that handwashing is just as effective as hand sanitizer in reducing the risk of illness.
2. Disposable masks vs washable masks
UCL scientists have calculated that if every person in the UK used one disposable mask every day for a year, we would create 66,000 tons of contaminated plastic waste and create ten times the climate impact of using reusable masks.
In hospital settings, disposable protective clothing such as masks and gloves are contaminated items and systems exist for their safe disposal, including separation and incineration.
N95 surgical grade respirators provide the highest level of protection against COVID-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks.
However, evidence suggests that reusable masks perform most of the tasks of disposable masks without a corresponding waste stream.
Material reusable masks are a great eco-friendly alternative if they are washed after each use.
3. Plastic bags vs material
In October 2015, the UK government passed new laws to restrict the use of plastic bags in the UK.
Since then, the number of plastic bags in the UK has declined.
However, due to the coronavirus, more people are switching to disposable bags, and several US states have completely banned reusable bags.
Although data on how long COVID-19 can live on clothing is still unclear, Vincent Munster of the National Institutes of Health told the BBC that the NIH suggests “it dries quickly” on porous materials.
The general advice is that instead of throwing away reusable bags, wash them regularly and everyone who comes into contact with them also washes their hands.
4. Coffee cups vs. reusables
In recent years, coffee cups have been the focus of anti-plastic campaigners.
However, as lockdown restrictions ease and coffee shops reopen, many are returning to disposable coffee cups to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.
Several major coffee chains that previously accepted reusable coffee cups have also stopped using them for safety reasons.
Despite widespread concerns, more than 100 scientists, doctors and academics have supported the prudent use of reusable containers as safe and unlikely to further spread COVID-19.
Reusable cups should be washed thoroughly with soap and hot water.
5. Takeaway Pint Glasses vs. #PlasticFreePints
As pubs reopened over the weekend, many switched to plastic cups to facilitate takeout orders and reduce the need for staff to touch used cups.
As with reusable coffee cups, if washed thoroughly, a reusable cup or tumbler could be an easy sustainable replacement to help curb the growing waste problem caused by the coronavirus.
Global climate news platform Ours to Save and EcoDisco, an environmental action company, created the #PlasticFreePints initiative to encourage pub-goers to use reusable alternatives instead of the typical single-use plastic offered.