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Can we have a plastic-free July in the shadow of covid-19?

Clue: yes, we can.

Plastic-free July is a movement that helps millions of people all over the world be part of the solution to plastic pollution. The aim? Cleaner streets and oceans, as well as beautiful communities.

plastic waste

Image by Stux from Pixabay

Of course, plastic-free July will be different in the bizarre year that is 2020. The worldwide pandemic has refocused minds on what is important in life. First and foremost is health and safety. For many, part of that thinking also extends to thinking about their personal impact on the environment.

Covid-19 has also understandably made people nervous about how and what they are buying. Supermarkets have become a minefield of challenges and it is heartening to see the increase in the use of small, local businesses.

But, for all the reduction in air pollution and other environmental benefits that have been a silver lining to covid-19, there are also stories where it feels like we have taken a backward step in the fight against plastic pollution.  

The littering of single-use face masks and plastic gloves, shops and takeaways banning the use of reusable coffee cups and the reintroduction of single-use plastic bags are just some of the examples. I have also heard anecdotes of people going back towards chemical-based, plastic-wrapped cleaning products and single-use cleaning wipes. This is understandable in the fear of the virus but is it necessary?

Litter face mask

Image by ivabalk from Pixabay

Scientists have now come out with the good news that Reusable systems can be safely used by employing basic hygiene. Read the statement here.

The statement notes that:

  • Disposable products present the same problems as reusables when it comes to providing a surface for the virus to live on (so we shouldn’t be complacent that a container is safer because it is single-use)
  • Reusables have an advantage because they can be cleaned – soap and hot water remain the strongest defence against the virus (so make sure you pop your reusable containers in the dishwasher or wash well in the sink, and wash your reusable bags in the washing machine regularly)
  • Everyone should follow proper hygiene routines (including washing hands and avoiding touching your face) and social distancing to minimise risk.

 

Person washing hands with bar of soap

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

At The Green Turtle, we are hopeful that we can all continue the momentum that was starting to build up pre-covid towards a more sustainable world so this news is heartening.

We are passionate about helping people make that change. We advocate small changes, over time, as the best way to manage your change in a less overwhelming way, as well as making use of what you have and spreading costs. We will be taking part in plastic-free July to try to identify new ways we can reduce our personal impact on the environment. By taking one step at a time, we can all make a huge difference!

You can get involved in plastic-free July and sign up for lots of tips and support here: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/take-the-challenge/

 

 

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