For the past few years the EcoMinute has encouraged a decrease in use of single use plastics, a suggestion that is harder to accomplish during this pandemic, but not impossible.
Plastic bottles – There’s absolutely nothing wrong with our water supplies, so there’s really no reason to stocking up on bottled water. A reusable bottle and tap water (filtered if you prefer) will work just fine.
Plastic grocery bags – This is apparently a bit harder to avoid, I’ve been told, and several states have banned reusable bags. So far, I’ve gone to two grocery stores and didn’t have any problems using my cloth bags. In one I used the self-checkout (clearly no problem there) and in other, I asked the checker if they had any problem using my bags – which they did not. If they had I would have offered to bag the food myself, as I often do. Another option, rather than using single-use bags is to go without a bag – take your groceries to your car in the cart, unload it directly into your cart and bag it to go in your house.
And more on plastic bags – If you read the studies on coronavirus survival on a variety of surfaces, you’ll remember that it had a much longer half-life (what was actually tested in the studies) on plastic than cardboard. Unfortunately, fabric was not tested, but I’d suspect it was similar to cardboard since the droplets would be absorbed into the fabric as opposed to staying liquid as they would on plastic. So, if you can’t use your cloth bags, opt for paper. If you do use your bags, wash them and leave them in your car. According to Massachusetts Bureau of Environmental Health Director Jana Ferguson, who wrote in an email that the department has seen "no scientific information specific to bags and the ability of reusable bags to be a way to spread coronavirus."
Straws – Still no reason to use them. If you’re concerned about what you’re drinking from, I don’t think a straw will be much protection. If you absolutely must use a straw – use bamboo, stainless steel or glass.
Some other things I’ve talked about:
Things that still work
- Now more than ever don’t take unnecessary trips, not only does it waste gasoline and increase pollution (something that has improved greatly due to so many people staying at home) but it increases the chance you’ll potentially be exposed to the virus
- Get out and walk, but be polite and give people enough room so they don’t have to walk in the grass to keep an appropriate distance.
- Spend some time outside – not really a strong environmental reason, but you need to get away from screens and TV and see some of the beauty out there, you can’t want to work to preserve what you don’t care about. I’d never noticed how many cardinals fly through my backyard and spend time on my trees before.
- Start a garden, or work in your garden or landscaping. Yes, you probably need to leave your house to buy plants or seeds, but unless you’re a prepper, you probably have to do some shopping anyway. This brings up all of the EcoMinutes on how to plant, water, fertilize, and control pests appropriately.
And one that may not work right now
- At the top of my list is carpooling and I pulled any mention of that from the EcoMinutes that I’m running now. Unless you’re living with me, I probably won’t share a car with you.
Catch Dr. Sisskin's Eco Minute every weekday at 4 p.m. or download the podcast.