Sustainability Tip: COVID-19 is a great time to slow down and think about how to eliminate single-use plastics | VailDaily.com
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Sustainability Tip: COVID-19 is a great time to slow down and think about how to eliminate single-use plastics

By Mackenzie Koffenberger
Special to the Daily
Avoiding single use plastic takes time and effort, but it's worth it.
Special to the Daily

The world looks different these days, but one thing still stays the same. Single-use plastics are avoidable.

No matter if you are working from home, an essential worker or waiting for work to start back up, you can make the effort to avoid single-use plastics. Business Today describes single-use plastics as, “disposable plastics meant for use-and-throw. These comprise polythene bags, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic sachets, plastic wrappers, straws, stirrers and Styrofoam cups or plates.” With the current slower pace of our world, you even have more time to think about how you buy and what you use. 

There are tricky items that use single-use plastics like fruit or veggie containers, your favorite snack, or sports drink. Try thinking of other options when you find items encased in plastic. Could you buy your fruit in the summer from the farmer’s market? Or try a similar snack with sustainable packaging. Or use sport drink mixes that you put in tap water. There are other options out there, it just takes effort and creative thinking.

Any transformation takes time: habits take 40 consecutive days to become routines, and change doesn’t happen overnight. Every person trying for a sustainable life needs to participate in small steps every day. Why not make this one of your small steps? 

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Here are some tips to get started:

  • Skip the utensils when ordering take out from local restaurants
    • When you order, tell them you don’t need utensils. Bring the food home or bring your own utensils with you – your dinner fork or forks you use while camping. There is no need to use a plastic fork on one dinner when there are multiple ways to avoid it. And as there’s currently no option to eat in the establishment, you have an option of what you use to eat your meal. 
  • Enough with plastic water bottles.
    • For me, a monumental change during COVID-19 that I am seeing is the number of plastic water bottles being purchased in hoarder level quantities from the stores. Even as a global pandemic changes the way we function, we do not have a shortage of fresh drinkable tap water. Learn more in this Vail Daily article.
    • Before you leave the house, fill a water bottle with tap water and throw it in the car. If you need chilled water, invest in a double-walled vacuum sealed bottle to keep your water cold throughout the day. Or use ice.
  • Stop using plastic vegetable bags at the grocery store
    • Take a moment and remember the last two times you shopped at the grocery store and how many plastic bags you filled your vegetables with. Those are avoidable. All you are doing is transferring vegetables from the store to your home – bring your own veggie bags. They are cheap, washable and used for more than 30 minutes before being thrown away. If buying reusable bags isn’t an option right now, save your plastic bags and stuff them in your reusable grocery bags for your next shopping trip.
  • Shop at FillandRefill
    • Buy sustainability with our local store, FillandRefill, where you can bulk buy items with heavy plastic use (shampoo, soap, detergent) or shop for reusable or biodegradable items. Learn more at fillandrefill.com and in this Vail Daily article.

Mackenzie Koffenberger is the marketing coordinator at Walking Mountains Science Center. Aside from filling her stickered water bottle with fresh tap water, you can find her on your paddleboard or reading by the river. Contact her at mackenziek@walkingmountains.org.


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