REFUSE, REDUCE, and REUSE – How to Reduce Your Waste Impact in COVID-19 Times

Keeping safe and healthy during the COVID-19 global pandemic is removing much of the gains we have made in reducing plastic use and is creating new waste issues. Grocery stores around the country are not allowing re-usable bags (and bans are being put on hold), coffee shops are refusing to refill personal mugs, and as restaurants are reopening, some are considering using disposable plates, utensils, and cups.

But the idea that “plastic is safer” runs in direct contradiction to the best available science. Earlier this month the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus that causes COVID-19 persists on plastic 300% as long as it does on paper! 72 hours! Plastic showed the longest survival time of all materials the scientists tested. Stainless steel, cardboard, copper and the air itself were all far less hospitable than plastic! Unfortunately, special interests have capitalized on peoples’ fears to advance the use of plastics.

What is a concerned world citizen to do?

  • REFUSE to use single-use plastics.
  • Look for ways that you can REDUCE your dependence on convenient packaging.
  • REUSE your cloth face mask.
  • And spread the word that plastic is NOT safer.

Check out this nifty infographic with some easy to follow tips to still REFUSE, REDUCE, and REUSE in the age of COVID-19 from the Plastic Free Salish Sea Coalition.

The Plastic Free Salish Sea Coalition came together in 2018 to build an education and awareness campaign aimed at changing citizen behavior and the cultures of plastic use in San Juan County and throughout the wider Salish Sea region. The coalition includes the SJC Marine Resources Committee, Friends of the San Juans, SJC Solid Waste Department, SJC Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Lopez Solid Waste District, and Orcas Exchange. While some temporary safety measures may be necessary during the current pandemic, we will continue to work hard to find alternatives, educate the community, and make sure that single-use plastics do not find a permanent place in our communities.

Thank you for joining us in reducing our community’s waste!

Click here to read more in a story from the Journal of the San Juan Islands.

We believe that our property is more valuable if we and our neighbors protect the shoreline. Orcas need salmon. Salmon need forage fish. Salmon and forage fish need the protection of eelgrass and kelp. Eelgrass and kelp need clean water. Shoreline protections are good for ecosystems and for the long-term economy of these lovely islands.

Val and Leslie Veirs

members, San Juan Island