Coronavirus and sustainability is a subject which has been discussed in great depth. The question being asked is; how can we live sustainability when there as so many restrictions, additional measures and new practices in place? So, we’ve tried to take a balanced look. We’re discussing what things we can do to live as sustainably as possible in the current environment, from both a business and personal point of view. Additionally, we’re looking at how it’s important to have a positive outlook.
Why is Coronavirus and sustainability an issue?
‘So much for looking after the environment, they’re telling us to throw masks away after one use!’
‘I can’t even use my own cup at Starbucks because apparently that risks the spread of infection!’
‘We’ve only to use disposable coffee cups in our office!’
‘If people are being told to sanitise their shopping bags, they’ll just throw them away instead!’
‘It’s just not possible for us to care for our environment whilst Coronavirus is about.’
All of the above are statements that lots of us have said, heard or read in the last six to nine months. It’s true; the emergence of Coronavirus has made sustainability difficult. We’ve been (rightly) advised about actions related to the above points which make every-day sustainable measures difficult to take. Paired with the stress that the whole world has been living with about having a pandemic hanging over our heads, sustainability has taken a back seat. However, it’s important to provide balance to the argument that Coronavirus and sustainability can’t be mentioned in the same sentence.
The environment has benefited somewhat
There’s a few different points we’d like to highlight about Coronavirus and sustainability, and we’re starting with one of the biggest. Our environment has benefited in many ways from the lockdowns imposed across all parts of the world as a result of the emergence of Coronavirus. Of course, the pandemic has been a human atrocity, of that there is no doubt. But from an environmental point of view:
- Air miles have reduced drastically, positively impacting the environment.
- Road miles have reduced drastically, positively impacting the environment.
- People have worked from home instead of the office, positively impacting the environment.
- Wildlife was able to reclaim land, positively impacting the environment.
- Air quality has improved, positively impacting the environment.
It’s easy to get hung up on the restrictions and negative implications that have arisen regarding Coronavirus and sustainability. However, the above points illustrate that it isn’t all bad from an environmental point of view. Next; on to the most important part.
So what can we do?
Firstly, it’s important to really concentrate on the word in the above heading that’s highlighted in italics. We’re being told to take certain measures for good reason, so let’s not look at them as things that stop us from living sustainably. Instead, they’re just obstacles to navigate.
Individuals: as individuals, there’s plenty we can do:
- Buy a couple of washable, re-useable face coverings instead of a multitude of packets of single-use disposable ones. Leave them to the medical professionals and other businesses that require them more than the general public.
- Manage our single-use items at home. Finished a spray bottle of disinfectant? Why not keep it and make a homemade cleaner.
- Make your own lunch. It’s one less person purchasing a throwaway fork or container at lunchtime.
- Be stricter with yourself. We have bins for recycling allocated types of products, use them and don’t allow yourself to be lazy.
- Give yourself a personal audit. What are you using a lot of that is harmful, and how can you reduce it? We bet you can reduce it.
Businesses: equally, businesses can take simple measures to manage Coronavirus and sustainability:
- Let’s start with the last point; a business can do an audit of its disposables to. Give a staff member the responsibility of looking into how the business can improve its practices for the good of the environment. This article is a good place to start.
- Supply chain monitoring. Can anything change logistically or operationally that will make your business more environmentally conscious without impacting your goals? The answer could be yes.
- Ask your people. Give your staff an input – is there anything they think could change? It could be as simple as reducing the amount of printed documents needed, but, could have a big impact. Take advantage of digital capabilities.
- As above, can you be reusing items from your cleaning practices? For example, you can get a refillable trigger spray, it doesn’t always have to be thrown away.
- Provide staff with cutlery, plates, bowls etc (whilst bearing in mind hygiene measures of course). All of this encourages staff to bring their own lunch as opposed to purchasing something that will have its packaging thrown away.
As a business in the cleaning and hygiene supplies industry, people’s focus on sustainability is something we are constantly conscious of. To be sustainable during Coronavirus, adaptability is required. Want to discuss the topic or seek advice? Get in touch, we’ll be happy to help.