Plastic Waste Amid COVID-19

by Crysta Hammond August 21, 2020

Plastic Waste Amid COVID-19

One can't help but notice how far we as a society had made important steps to reducing our plastic usage in our everyday lives - then the pandemic hit.

The strides that we as individuals have made in modifying our habits in the battle against unneeded plastic production are no longer "acceptable". Now there is more plastic waste than in previous years due to new COVID-19 precautions. One can’t help but notice the global increase of production of single-use face masks, plastic gloves, plastic beverage containers and for ready-to-use disinfectant sprays & cleaners (in plastic bottles of course).

For the safety of ourselves and each other, this pandemic has in some respects reverted us to our old wasteful and unsustainable ways,

Gone are the days where we were able to go to Starbucks and hand them our to-go mug - to save money and our planet. Plastic slushie cups fill garbage cans outside corner convenience stores as people sloppily pour their drink from the mandatory plastic cup into their insulated travel cups within seconds of purchase. Do you remember when we were able to fill our own water bottles? We have all heard of the global problem of pandemic-related trash that is riddling our streets, parking lots and sidewalks.

People enter stores to be handed a disposable face mask, only to wear it once for only a matter of minutes before removing it as they leave the store and then place it directly into the rubbish bin outside. Enter mother nature. It only takes a few minutes of watching these rubbish bins until wind will blow and these items float, twist and twirl into even the most hard-to-reach corners of our communities.

In some communities you can't enter grocery stores with your personal reusable cloth bags and/or totes! Coupled with the increase in online grocery shopping and delivery services which usually don’t offer paper bag alternatives, and everything is provided in single-use plastic bags, it is not hard to see the damage that this pandemic is causing to our planet. Even bulk sections in grocery stores are either closed or all items are prepacked in single-use plastic bags.

However, none of this compares to the amount of plastic bottle waste created from the high consumer demand for ready-to-use hand sanitizers and spray disinfectants. With the rate of use of these items increasing constantly, more and more plastic bottles are entering landfills at an alarming rate which should make anyone cringe.

All of this happening so soon after society had finally acknowledged that our way of life is non-sustainable. We need to be using earth friendly alternatives and changing our daily habits in order to globally reduce the damage we have caused and still are causing. So one has to ask - what can we do now? Here are a few eco-friendly options and changes anyone can make to reduce their plastic consumption and waste.

  1. Invest in a few reusable face masks. With owning multiple face masks, you are able to have access to a clean facemask while the other one is being washed.
  2. Get creative with used disposable cups and find ways to repurpose them. Here is a great article about 11 ways you can reuse plastic cups.
Plastic repurposed planter from by hyperdoggie

Image from courtesy of hyperdoggie

    1. Keep soft plastic bags from your bulk bin purchases. Wash and dry them and then roll them onto a empty paper towel tube. There are some really good articles out there on saving your bread and bulk bin bags and ways to repurpose them. Some ideas are to use them for smaller household garbage bins (like in bathrooms), to keep some in your glove box for easy-to-grab garbage or sick bags, or use them to pickup after your pet when out on walks.
    2. When placing online grocery orders, add a comment during check out that you would like no plastic bags because it can be place directly into open bins in your vehicle. Ask your local grocer if they offer paper bags.
    3. Ensure your garbage is in its place. A outdoor trash can with no lid is not a place for lightweight plastics. If there is no bin, hold on to your items until you get home where you can dispose of them correctly.
    4. Save your empty spray-bottles and consider switching to OneTabs!

    OneTabs are fully dissolvable concentrated household cleaning tablets that are formulated to produce 750ml of cleaning product - which is the average size of existing bottles that you probably have under your sink right now! OneTabs help you reduce plastic waste by repurpose your existing bottles, and are a eco-friendly alternative to regular ready-to-use cleaners. Read more about OneTabs and how they help reduce plastic waste.

    Cover image: A disposed mask on a sidewalk in Singapore. /CGTN

    Crysta Hammond
    Crysta Hammond


    Crysta Hammond first entered the marketing field in 2001 with a diploma in Multimedia Design & Communications. Throughout her career, Crysta has gained invaluable experience in marketing & graphic design with leading brands such as Harley-Davidson and Travel Alberta, and continues her ongoing quest for further education with diploma's in Social Media Marketing and is Google Analytics Certified. Today, Crysta is the VP of Corporate Branding & Design for GardGroup Inc and it's subsidiaries.

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