Last year, legislation to bring down national plastic use was pending. The shunning of single-use materials was – happily – becoming the norm. Then came COVID-19, and with it a seismic shift in lifestyle and priorities.
Lots of reasons! After coronavirus hit, use of disposables increased, fuelled by speculation they might reduce viral spread. Demand for single-use protective wear skyrocketed, as did online shopping and takeaways, which are often swaddled in plastic. Meanwhile, policies like the UK ban on plastic straws were delayed or backtracked. And more generally, in this time of collective trauma, our attention has been shifted from pushing forward the sustainability agenda.
In cases such as PPE, plastic is necessary. In others it simply isn’t. Experts say that reusable items, such as cups and masks, are safe if used and sanitised properly. In fact, research shows that the virus actually lives longer on plastic than other materials.
Can we look after our own health while taking on the plastic trail COVID-19 is leaving in its wake? We put our heads together (virtually, of course) to answer just that.
You’ve probably got at least one or two of these by now, but it’s not too late to switch to the fabric side if not! You could even make your own out of old clothing (bamboo yoga leggings for us, so super comfortable and gentle on the skin!). If you’re not feeling crafty, look out for biodegradable cloth options, such as this from Tabitha Eve. Double-check Government guidelines for how to use masks safely.
While latex itself is biodegradable, most ‘rubber’ gloves have other chemicals added that slow decomposition. The World Health Organisation recommends handwashing over glove wearing in preventing the spread of COVID-19. For an eco-friendly handwash, buy as natural as you can in bulk quantities and recyclable packaging. Try this gorgeous Faith in Nature Aloe Vera & Tea Tree handwash 5l refill, which can apparently keep your hands clean for up to a year. Otherwise, go for bar soap…
We’re all getting through a lot of soap nowadays, which can mean lots of plastic waste if you use liquid handwashes. Bar soaps are equally effective and kinder on the Earth. Check out these five eco-friendly options.
While we absolutely advocate for carrying around hand sanitiser and using it regularly, we aren’t fans of the plethora of little plastic bottles that end up in the bin as a result. Look for plastic-free packaging, like this super 75% alcohol gel by Flawless (who are big on sustainable materials and love a bit of bamboo, like us!). You could even make your own in bulk. If you’re not keen to try glass for this portable product, make sure the packaging is fully recyclable: we love this Haoma hand sanitiser, which is made with Fairtrade, organic sugarcane ethanol (and contains above the minimum 60% alcohol required against coronavirus).
Moving our bodies has kept many of us positive through this pandemic. This exercise boom is wonderful, but few realise how much plastic can creep into your workout if you’re not careful. Activewear is often made from polyester, polyamide and nylon heavy fabrics, which are plastic-based synthetics. Here at Asquith, we use the fabrics organic cotton and bamboo with 0 synthetics for maximum comfort, breathability and durability. We’re stringent about how they’re produced too, so you can rest assured your activewear is both ethical and sustainable. Read more about our eco-fabrics here, then click through to our online shop to stock up on ethical activewear!
Don’t forget your exercise props. Yoga mats and bricks are often made from unsustainable, non-degradable materials - try greener alternatives like cork (such as this gorgeous cork mat from our friends at Corc Yoga) and these beautiful Downward Duck yoga bricks made from upcycled flip-flop pollution!
Of course, we should aim to cut down on plastics across the board. Here are some extra tips for making plastic-free choices:
Are you managing to keep your plastic use down in these unprecedented times? Share your tips with us on social media, we’d love to know!