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6 Tips For Staying Plastic-Free In The New Normal

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

COVID-19 has thrown us for a loop. Every day we are getting new and conflicting information about our safety, the virus and what life will look like when we "re-emerge" from our isolation and stay at home orders.

We have been told that distance, cleanliness, masks, gloves and disposable single-use plastics will keep us safe. Medical plastic waste is on the rise and with it plastic pollution. Many masks and gloves are plastic and are being carelessly discarded and found turning up as litter on the streets, waterways and beaches.

Single-use PPE plastics causing pollution.

But what really seems insane is the need to take huge steps backwards in the fight against single-use plastic pollution. I have a hard time buying into the mindset that putting everything into plastic makes me or the world safer from COVID-19, or any other virus for that matter!

First, there has been scientific proof stating that the virus can live on plastics longer than other substances. Secondly, it has been our over consumption and non-sustainable ways that has brought us here. Thirdly, I always believed that over disinfecting and sanitizing causes more illness then it hinders. That's just simple common sense. Without the ability to create immunities, our immune systems are not as strong at fighting off new viruses and bacterias we come in contact with.

So now that we are in a "take out" world and are told we can not use our own reusable bags, containers, etc. we are creating a plastic wasteland.

For me, I have just refused. As much as I want to support my local shops, co-ops, and restaurants, if they are using single use plastic, I just have to abstain. That said, there are ways around it if you still want to support local.

Here are some tips to help you stay plastic-free in these times:

  1. Call ahead and ask which restaurants offer paperboard take out containers. Tell them "no bag." You were blessed with hands after all.

  2. Support your local pizza parlor. They always come in boxes.

  3. Buy a gift certificate (if non-plastic) from your local restaurant to use when you can visit in person.

  4. Bag it outside. Carry your un-bagged items out of the store. I repack into my cart and bag outside or in my car if they ask me not to use my reusable bag.

  5. Choose non-plastic-wrapped produce and put items in cart without produce bags. Shop smart; it may be a little extra effort, but it's worth it!

  6. Support local bakeries that are baking fresh. Most items are not wrapped in plastic and they use boxes or paper bags. Plus, they are much healthier for you!

As we already know, most plastics are not recycled (only 9% are!) and introducing even more into the waste stream now seems ludicrous. It's a tough time and the messages are getting less and less clear.

But the one thing I do know is that we have to do what is right for us, our health and our future -- and that is undeniably cutting down on the use of plastics in our lives.

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