More so now than ever, there seems to be a greater sense of urgency amongst the public around dealing with our current climate crisis. I have especially felt this pressure while watching the record-number of wildfires and other natural disasters decimate our world’s richest lands over the past few months. Amidst all that has been depicted in the media, however, there has been one dire crisis that has gotten drowned out from all the noise.
That, my friends, is the waste crisis.
Photo: ‘Trash Crisis in US’
Unbeknownst to many of us, we are wasting more than ever before because of COVID. With more of us relying heavily on takeout, packaged goods, and PPE to get by, our waste consumption, and thus waste production, has skyrocketed. It is estimated that by the end of the year alone, we would have wasted 30% more than that wasted in 2019. Adding insult to injury, the financial burdens that COVID has introduced to local communities these past few months has resulted in a significant decline in support funding for recycling programs.
What does this mean? Well, we suppose you can put two and two together. More waste produced + less recycling = A LOT more waste that is exacerbating an already dire waste crisis.
As you know, the waste we produce doesn’t just disappear after we take out the trash. Rather, this waste ends up in our water streams, where it devastates our oceanic ecosystems, the quality of drinking water in impoverished communities, and ultimately the health of our guts.
At the rate we’re going, research models make the sobering prediction that by 2050 there will be more plastic than actual fish in the our oceans! And that is in just less than 30 years!
Overwhelmed yet? Well, let’s channel some of that angst into action! Below are five(+) small adjustments you can make to your consumption habits that can go a long way in helping us combat the dire waste crisis during COVID.
1. BUY ECO-FRIENDLY MASKS!
It was recorded recently that since the onslaught of the pandemic, an estimated 129 billion face masks have been used and disposed per month. This coupled with the 65 billion gloves that have been used per months has contributed to a waste landmass big enough to cover landmass of Switzerland! Now a way you can avoid adding to the great waste mass is by switching from single-use masks to eco-friendly masks. A personal favorite are those from Christy Dawn. These masks are made from easily washable and affordable fabrics. A huge plus is that with every purchase, five masks are donated to those in need!
Photo: ‘The Sustainable Mask’ — Christy Dawn
2. SEEK GREEN CLEANING ALTERNATIVES
Now, we understand that in the midst of a pandemic it can be reassuring to use conventional name-brand products. Afterall, health officials have been encouraging their purchases and (in result) everyone has been following suit with using them. However, a lot of these conventional products are immensely wasteful because they are single-use and come in packaging that are not easily recyclable/bio-degradable. Instead, you should reallocate your funds to more eco-friendly products such as re-fillable cleaning liquids, cleaning rags (as oppose to paper towels), and supplies made from natural products. Unsure where to purchase such materials? We got you covered! EarthHero, Frosch, and PurHome are just a few of the many organizations out there that have been making green cleaning more and more accessible to the everyday buyer… And to answer your question, yes, they are reliable and safe to use (add link)!
3. PURCHASE LOCALLY
Perhaps this goes without saying that amidst the current financial crisis, it is imperative to support your local communities during these times. The extra benefit to doing this is that buying locally also drastically reduce the unnecessary waste generated from shipping packaging…. And yet another additional benefit is that buying locally gives you an extra reason to get outside and connect with your community while helping our environment!
4. TRY THESE PACKAGING WASTE REDUCTION HACKS
We understand that the reality is you may not be able feasible for you to solely consume locally. So, if you do find yourself having to purchase goods online, consider these easy waste-reduction hacks. For Amazon purchases, reducing the wasteful packaging can be just as simple as consolidating your orders and reaching out to Amazon’s Customer service (at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 (888) 280-4331) to request less wasteful wrappings like air mailers and bubble wrap, at no extra cost! Additionally, you could check out startups like Limeloop and Noissue that solely send their goods in recyclable packaging.
Photo: ‘Reusable Packaging’ – Limeloop
5. GET INVOLVED WITH RECYCLING ORGANIZATIONS
THAT ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Now this is last but certainly not least! First things first, you should support your local recycling programs however way you can; for as mentioned previously COVID has put a great strain on the financial support for these local systems. But apart from (or perhaps in addition to) this, you should keep in mind these three organizations – TerraCycle, Earth911, and The Free Cycle Network – that have been making enormous leaps in reducing waste production by making recycling practices more accessible to the everyday consumer. The former two, do so with their widescale recycling programs; the latter most with a free online donation network!
Now those are my five(+) simple ways you can make a difference today! I hope I have made clear the immense power we have as consumers to make a difference in combatting the waste crisis we have at our hands. Now, it is up to you to act upon this new knowledge in your own life. With all that we have wasted in these past few months, let’s not waste these easy opportunities to make a difference for our planet!
Photo: Recycling Symbol