How to be eco-friendly during COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a lot of things up in the air, but one positive that seems to have come out of it is its subsequent effect on the environment. Specifically, on global CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. Lockdowns, closed workplaces, and the lack of travel have caused global emissions to fall by 4.6%.
This is one of the biggest declines in global emissions since the second World War. There was also a decrease of 3.8% in fine particle pollution, and 2.9% in sulphur dioxide (can lead to respiratory issues) and nitrogen oxide (leads to smog) air pollution.
And even though lockdowns and a pandemic might have meant the environment is not seen as a priority by most, a lot of have taken up activities that have a positive impact on the planet.
One activity that has really flourished is gardening and growing our own food. 42% of people took up gardening in lockdown, whilst a third of a million searched for tips on growing plants on the Royal Horticultural Society website. The most searched for crop being the potato!
However, with positives such as a reduction in aviation – a big contributor to emissions – and green energy on the up, the problem of waste and plastic pollution is still a huge issue. And especially with the increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE). We’ve all probably noticed disposable face masks littered in parks or the odd glove on the street.
You may feel we’ve all got a lot more to worry about than the environment, but with these simple eco-friendly practices, you or your business can still play your part without taking up too much time or effort.
How can we be eco-friendly in a pandemic?
Buy a reusable face mask
According to a study in Environmental Science and Technology, an estimated 194 billion disposable masks and gloves are being used worldwide every month. And a lot of these are ending up on our streets, in our parks, and even in our oceans. They can’t be recycled due to them being considered medical waste, so they’re either end up in landfill or being incinerated. Therefore, even when they are disposed of correctly, they’re still contributing to having a negative effect on the planet.
Therefore, a simple thing that most of us can do is invest in a reusable face mask, rather than use the plastic single use/disposable ones. Reusable face masks are available pretty much everywhere now and are relatively inexpensive.
This of course doesn’t include health care workers or other workers who are required to use PPE in their line of work.
Ditch the plastic gloves
You might have seen some people wearing latex gloves when out and about, and wondered: are gloves also necessary? Well, scientists say no. Wearing gloves doesn’t give you added protection against coronavirus. If anything, they may do more harm than good, as it’s giving people a false sense of security. Touching a surface whilst wearing gloves, then touching your face, is the same as touching your face with your actual hand. And so, any germs on that surface are transferred onto you.
And similar to single use face masks, they’re also causing a lot of plastic pollution. So, as they’re not advised to be used, ditch the gloves and make sure you wash your hands regularly.
Invest in refillable sanitiser and soap dispensers
This one mostly applies to businesses, but is really for anyone who keeps hand sanitiser either in a workplace or at home. We’ve all seen the small pump bottles of sanitiser, maybe when you’ve been to the hairdressers or to the local café. However, those small bottles don’t last too long, especially if you’re a business, and so you end up re-purchasing them again and again.
These plastic bottles really add up in waste. Instead, why not invest in a dispenser or sanitiser station, and then you just have to buy refills every now and then? It’s both the better environmental and economic choice!
Install a sensor tap
We’re all washing our hands a lot more, so we’re probably using more water than we usually would. But with this increase in washing hands, there’s also bound to be an increase in water wastage. Wasting water affects the environment by polluting natural bodies of water and damaging ecosystems.
One way to combat wasting water is by putting in a sensor tap. These are motion detection devices, so will only release water when the user needs it. They’re also usually designed to have a lower flow rate, an aerator in the spout, and materials that prevent any leaks. And not only do they save on water, but on energy too.
- The coronavirus pandemic has had some positive effects on the environment, mostly in global CO2 emissions.
- An increase in single use items, mainly face masks and gloves, has meant plastic pollution is on the rise.
- Buying a reusable face mask and ditching the gloves can help counter this pollution.
- Investing in refillable sanitiser and soap dispensers can also help in reducing our plastic pollution.
- Sensor taps can contribute to significant water savings, which can help protect our natural bodies of water and ecosystems.