The Increase of Pandemic Plastic Consumption:

6 Ways You Can Help

The Pandemic Plastic Overload

The pandemic and its accompanying quarantine have caused the use of single-use plastic to dramatically increase as disposable mask and glove usage have skyrocketed.

Many businesses are no longer encouraging their customers to bring their reusable shopping bags from home and even coffee shops are requesting customers to leave their personal mugs at home and use the in store disposable cups.

Important but Costly

I think most people understand that taking these steps are crucial in helping to mitigate the propagation of the virus, but these precautions come at a cost. 

This increase in garbage is adding additional strain to our already overburdened waste management systems.

The good news is you can help.

I have some straightforward actions you can take to facilitate the reduction of your single-use plastic consumption through this pandemic and into the future. 

Better Living Through Better Choices.

Ok lets get into this...

1. Wear Cloth Masks

Safety guidelines have made it difficult to go anywhere without wearing a face covering. Unfortunately according to a recent LA Times report the popularity of disposable face masks has seriously impacted the amount of plastic in the waste stream.

Do your part by opting to wear reusable cloth masks - you can find them just about everywhere and the selection and style are huge.  And remember to wash your cloth mask frequently.

2. Avoid Plastic Wherever You Can

Single use plastic is ubiquitous in our society, it is literally everywhere. We need to develop the awareness of when we can say no thanks to single use plastics.

  • When you're ordering takeout, be sure to ask the restaurant to leave out any extra disposable materials.  For example, let them know you don't need the disposable silverware.
  • Although most coffee shops and cafes aren't allowing the use of reusable personal drink containers, you can still bring your own reusable straw.
  • Whenever possible opt to purchase beverages that come in glass containers with metal lids.
  • Use refillable metal ink pens instead of the plastic disposable ones.

Keep an eye out for the single use plastic so when it comes into your orbit you can reject it and look for creative alternatives.

3. Ditch the Plastic Wrap

No doubt if you have been quarantining at home you have been doing more cooking which usually results in leftovers.

If you are using plastic wrap to cover your plates, bowls that are filled with leftover, please stop.

There are better ways...

An easy no cost solution is to use a plate as a lid.  Dinner plates fit nicely right on the top of most bowls and they provides enough weight to create  a sufficient seal.  You can also flip plates over and use them as lids on other dinner plates as well.  

Also, if you don't have lids for all of your pots just use a plate as a lid and slide the whole thing into the fridge.  

This Does Three Things:

  • Saves water because you'll have less dishes
  • Eliminates  the terrible use of single-point plastic
  • Saves you money

If you don't like this solution you can always opt to buy food storage containers that are available on the market.  I personally use a combination of both dinner plate and store bought food storage systems.

You'll want to make sure you purchase food storage systems that have no or minimal plastic in their lids, ideally BPA plastic free.  Their are a ton of options like silicone, glass beeswax and metal.

Here are some of the ones I like and use:

4. Upgrade Your Mop, Seriously

The leading spray mop uses single-use plastic pads. One greener choice, the O-Cedar ProMist MAX Microfiber Spray Mop features a reusable, machine washable microfiber pad and a refillable bottle to cut down on plastic waste.  It removes over 99%of E. coli and Staph. aureus from pre-finished hardwood flooring and ceramic tile using tap water, as tested at an independent accredited lab.

I'm digging on this new mop I got because it was affordable, it is sustainable and it actually works.

My wife and I love to cook and by the end of the week our kitchen floor can look pretty rough and the micro fiber technology combined with the spray really makes mopping the floors a lot easier

It has a refillable bottle that I just add 2 teaspoons of your favorite cleaning solution and I'm ready to get at it.

It doesn't require any batteries to make it's spray mechanism to work and has a comfortable comfortable grip handle and trigger.

It saves me money evetime I wash its microfiber pad for repeat use. The pad is machine washable up to 100 times.

You can check it out here, O-Cedar ProMist MAX Microfiber Spray Mop

5. Make your Own Cleaning Solutions

According to Spray Mop Habits & Practices Study, conducted in March 2010 the average household uses 18 bottles of cleaning solution per year. These purchased cleaning solutions come in disposal bottles which can be expensive as well as result in additional plastic waste. 

A simple inexpensive solution is to use a reusable bottle and make your own cleaning solution using water and your choice of vinegar or castile soap.

Organic Cleaning Spray Recipe #1

When it comes to cleaning, there’s no need to purchase an expensive, chemical laden cleaning solution. Instead, I encourage you to make your own at home. It’s simple!

  • Step #1: Fill a spray bottle w/ tap water and add two teaspoons of white vinegar.
  • Step #2: Gently shake the bottle to swirl around the water and white vinegar until they combine and mix together.
  • Step #3: Use on all of your surfaces including hard surfaces like kitchen and bathroom countertops, sinks, windows and even on hard floor surfaces including linoleum, tile, vinyl, laminate, ceramic, marble and stone.

Known as the “do it all” cleaner, white vinegar is a natural cleaning option that is safe to use on almost all surfaces. The best part is, it’s usually right in your kitchen pantry, so you’ll always have it on hand. Now you don’t have an excuse to skip out on cleaning. Sorry! (But not really).

Organic Cleaning Spray Recipe #2

Although the smell of vinegar is mild and dissipates in minutes some people can't stand the smell of it. Another option for those people is to use the natural cleaning solution of castile soap.

  • Step #1: Add hot water to a cleaning bucket and add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap.
  • Step #2: Gently stir the hot water and liquid castile soap together until thoroughly mixed and bubbles begin to form, but make sure you don’t have a ton of bubbles. No need for a foam party!

A word of caution: Don’t mix vinegar and castile soap together when cleaning. Feel free to use vinegar for cleaning and then castile soap if you wish, just make sure you give your surfaces a through rinse with clean water in between, but never mix vinegar and castile soap together. Just remember, one after the other but never together!

Organic Cleaning Spray Recipe #3

If you don’t have castile soap on hand and the smell of vinegar doesn’t bother you then you will like this third organic cleaning spray recipe.

  • Step #1: In a small cleaning bucket, add one cup of hot water then combine a half cup of white vinegar with one teaspoon of your favorite floor cleaner.
  • Step #2: Mix all ingredients together then use on floors to clean and bring back the shine and sparkle to all of your hard floor surfaces. 

I like to be as efficient as possible when it comes to cleaning, and this is a two in one! I get in a good clean and my floors to sparkle like they’re new.

6. Buy Local

If possible, get out to your local farmers market or butcher for your grocery shopping. Farmers market vendors often use less packaging and you can ask your butcher to wrap your meat in wax paper instead of plastic. Shopping local is also a great way to support your community.

It's the Little Things That Count

I have said it before and I will say it again, the devil is in the details.  It's all the little adjustments we make in our daily lives that compound to making a big difference.

Use these ideas to help reduce your dependency on single use plastic and lighten the burden on our maxed out waste management systems.

Checkout my post titled What's Your One Thing to inspire you to get started on your plastic free journey.