7 ways to reduce your environmental impact during COVID-19
Our tips for an eco-friendly lifestyle during a global pandemic.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it seemed like almost every country around the world had implemented strict quarantine measures, the industrial world came to a standstill, but parts of the natural world came back to life.
Early environmental benefits
Global carbon emissions were down as much as 17% around April 2020, due to stay at home orders that impacted transport, buildings, and industrial sources. This macro trend puts us on track to meet the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels -- we need to reduce global emissions by around 11% per year until 2030. On a micro level, thanks to the drop in tourism and changes in weather patterns, we’re seeing ecosystems starting to restore themselves and biodiversity come back. The Galapagos saw a record increase in the population of penguins on the island since travel restrictions were imposed.
Detrimental environmental impacts
As we near the end of the year, however, we’re seeing some of these positive trends reverse already. Though the world economy came to a near standstill, emissions are getting back on track and we’re projected at only a net reduction of emissions of around 7% in 2020 overall. Because of all the health and safety precautions people are taking, plastic and single-use consumption is at an all time high. Experts say that this sudden consumption has effectively reversed years of efforts to address non-degradable waste, because it’s likely that the world is using up to 129 billion face masks a month. This is significantly impacting our waste management situation, consumption and behavior patterns, marine health, and more.
How to reduce your own carbon footprint during the pandemic
The environmental movement was going strong before the pandemic and we shouldn’t take our foot off the gas pedal now. Here are some helpful tips to incorporate into your daily life so that you can do your part in mitigating the climate crisis:
- BYOB - bring your own bag: Using your own bags and water bottles and reusing things as much as possible is one of the greenest practices out there. For the most part, grocery stores are now letting customers bring their own bags and bag things on their own. You can also consider bringing your own bags to put produce in when you’re at the grocery store.
Don’t pick convenience over waste: If you forget a bag, you can always put the items back into the cart or basket and walk them out to your car yourself. It only takes a little bit more effort on your part but saves one plastic bag from being used and potentially ending up in the landfill or in the ocean.
Reuse and wash: Instead of using single-use masks and gloves every time, look for reusable and washable ones! There are definitely options out there that will keep your hands clean while also keeping the oceans plastic free. Remember of course you’ll always need to wash your hands properly when you get back home too.
Opt out of plastic: Where possible, replace disposable plastic with eco-friendly options - e.g. our eco-friendly LifeMade Envirocooler, our Earth-friendly straws, recycled cutlery like our Earth-In-Mind cutlery, paper boxes instead of plastic containers. If you must order takeout, ask for no utensils or straws since you’ll be bringing it home and eating it there anyway. We sometimes look in the bag and give it back to the employees for them to reuse for a less-environmentally minded customer down the line.
Reuse common items: Keep plastic takeout containers and use them for meal prep instead of throwing them away. You can also plant herbs in them or use them to propagate those plants you’ve been collecting.
- Start composting: Start composting at home! If you’re one of those people who get into gardening recently, this is a good way to put those produce scraps to use.
- Waste diversion: Everyone is clearing out their closets right now, but instead of throwing things away, think about where you can sustainably recycle items. Textiles can be upcycled for insulation, electronics should be donated to official e-waste centers, and you can collect clean plastic bags and packaging and bring them to grocery stores or office supply stores to be disposed of properly.
Overall, we can reduce, reuse, and recycle all we want, but the key to keeping our communities and oceans clean, is to consume less. This is probably the single most effective action that you can take as someone who cares about the environment; cut down on buying things online or buying things in general to reduce what ends up in landfills or improperly disposed of. We’re hard-wired to consume — billboards, targeted ads, and tech companies collecting our data are all in service of getting us to buy more things. Breaking this cycle will get us one step closer to a zero-waste economy, and a better future for generations to come.
Life. Made Better.
LifeMade is all about making life better through sustainable innovation and product experiences. Every step we take in this direction brings us closer to our vision of a no-compromise future — one where everyone has access to disposable products that are as good for the earth as they are convenient and enjoyable to use. As pioneers in our industry with a century’s worth of experience, it’s our responsibility to harness what we do best — materials innovation and production — for a better world. We’re inspired by the families that enjoy our products and committed to meaningful change.