We were just making some progress on our reusable journey. This was progress in getting people to give up their single use cups for their morning coffee and use a refillable. To take their reusable cutlery to eat lunches. To use their own drink bottle, rather than buying bottled water every time. To buy and use a metal straw, rather than a plastic (or even paper) one. We were moving towards our sustainability goals and reducing waste. Businesses were incentivising reusables, customers were starting to enjoy them. It was all starting to go so well…
The Great COVID-19 Reusable Disruption
And then the COVID-19 virus hit us. We had just learned to live in our strange, new and changing world. And the Delta strain took hold… What was expected to be the impact of COVID-19 on our sustainable living, light environmental footprint goals? It pretty much decimated the use of reusables for a short period time. It definitely set back progress by a lot of years and depleted any energy left in the grid.
What was the Issue with Reusables During COVID?
What happened? Initially, cafes and fooderies reverted back to single use plastics. Why? Well, it was due to the concern that the reusables could potentially carry the COVID-19 virus on their surfaces. In short, anything that had been in peoples’ homes was not welcome in cafes or fooderies. It was putting the health of the community at risk and potentially worsening or extending the effects of the pandemic.
Cleanliness and sterilisation became everyone’s favourite words. However, in our preoccupation with cleaning and sanitising to stifle the spread of the virus, the importance of reusables was diminished. Unfortunately, without a focus on their importance and reminders to use them, even discouragement in using them, their use dropped. Dramatically.
Not Necessarily the End for Reusables
It could easily have been, but this was not the end for reusables. As we learn more about the COVID-19 virus, its behaviour and how it spreads, the tide has once again turned in favour of sustainable options.
There have been many studies and experts who agree that as long as reusables are washed properly, there is no additional risk. That is that they are very safe for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Experts Agree, Even in a COVID-19 World, Reusables are Safe to Use!
There were over 125 experts from over 19 countries who agreed that reusables were safe.
What changed their minds from the beginning of the pandemic? It was that the research showed that the virus is transferred more by close contact between people and airborne droplets, rather than surface contact.
This means that our reusable coffee cups, straws or juice cups are back on the menu for a lot of cafes or shops. I can hear the collective sigh of relief from mother nature and our natural environment!
Reusables are back and it’s time to pick up where we left off and drive progress towards those sustainability goals once again.