11 tips to fight plastic pollution during a pandemic.
We used to bring home just one or two plastic-packaged groceries home from the store. Now, with stores closing bulk bins due to COVID-19, it feels like almost half of our groceries are in plastic. Plastic is our clogging our waterways, polluting our planet, killing wildlife, and ending up in our bodies. Even though our world feels upside-down during the pandemic, there are still ways to fight plastic pollution.
Instead of giving up altogether, I’ve put together 11 ways to fight plastic pollution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. If your tap water is safe, drink it instead of bottled water.
Avoid the packaging and cut down on the amount of microplastics that you eat at the same time! According to a 2018 study, bottled water has twice as many microplastics as tap water. If your tap water is safe (i.e., you don’t live in Flint, MI or one of many other communities where contamination has occurred), it’s better for you and the planet than bottled water. See where your communities stands here: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/
2. Store your food without plastic.
Certain plastic containers may leach harmful chemicals into foods, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Save your old plastic containers for non-food stuff, like organizing your kids art supplies or pebble collection. Use plastic-free containers instead for your food like glass jars, pyrex, stainless steel, and wax wraps. You can get plastic-free containers at LifeWithoutPlastic.com and wax wraps from yours truly at https://notraceshop.com/beeswaxwraps/
3. Choose to cook at home most of the time.
I admit, this one is kinda tough for me. I mean, cooking &/or washing dishes everyday and night gets old, amiright? But we try to limit our take out to once a week. One of our local pizza shops delivers vegan pizza (no plastic box topper!) so we’ll enjoy it and then compost the box. And we’re trying to support our favorite restaurants during the pandemic. Normally we’d dine in. But we’ve opted for takeout in plastic, just sparingly.
4. Keep microplastics out of our water.
Put your synthetic fabrics into a Guppyfriend bag or toss a Cora ball into your wash to catch the microfibers released by your fabrics. You can get a Guppyfriend bag at Ethos in Capitola (shop online here) and a Cora ball from Earthhero.com. Microplastics are polluting our water and ending up in our bodies. Stopping them at the source is key.
At the store:
5. Buy larger quantities.
If you can’t shop into your own containers, like we can’t right now, opt for the largest portion you can find that won’t spoil. Pantry staples like beans and grains are a safe bet, as well as flour, sugar, salt, and other baking supplies.
6. Look for paper over plastic packaging.
Since bulk foods aren’t available in bulk right now, we’ve been searching for paper-packaged versions instead. We’ve been able to find paper alternatives for pasta, sugar, salt, pinto beans, lentils, rice, & flour. We recycle the paper packaging if it’s clean, and compost it if it’s not.
We’re also looking for glass and metal options over plastic – e.g., certain peanut butter and olive oil brands come in large plastic-free packaging.
7. Rethink certain ingredients.
Can you substitute something in plastic for something not? Can you find a lower waste alternative? Opt for unpackaged fruits & veggies in the produce aisle. Now’s the time to show your flexibility with food. In our house, rather than buy green lentils in plastic, e.g., we’re eating mostly red lentils that we were able to buy in a huge paper bag.
8. If you can’t bring your own bags, skip the bag altogether.
Lots of stores will let you put your groceries into your cart, then use your own bags at your bike or car or on the curb. We’ll place loose produce in our cart and then bag it at home in our own cloth bags. You can shop for cloth bags made by No Trace here.
In your community…
9. Write a letter to your local paper
10. Write to your favorite local business thanking them for positive steps and asking for more.
Tell them that we need to return to/move towards reusable options in our shops, restaurants, and cafes.
More than 100 scientists have signed a statement that “reusable systems can be used safely by employing basic hygiene”. As long as we follow basic hygiene recommendations, there’s no reason to think that reusable containers are riskier than disposable containers. In fact, the virus lives longer on plastic than on cloth, glass, and paper (
. Also, although washing your hands and not touching your face is still important, the spread of COVID-19 is happening through aerosolized droplets, not from germs that remain behind on surfaces. Spread the word!
In the global community…
11. Reach out to the biggest plastic polluters and demand action.
, the 3 biggest polluters in 2019 include Coca Cola, Nestle, and PepsiCo. Break Free From Plastic demands that corporations “reveal their plastic footprint, reduce the plastic they produce, and reinvent their packaging to be reusable”. Reach out to them through social media or their websites. Ask your friends and family to do the same. Take & share pictures of their plastic litter. Demand that corporations take responsibility for their plastic pollution.
There you have it – my top 11 ways to fight plastic pollution during apandemic. Do you have any to add? Share in the comments below!
Thanks for reading.