Prioritizing sustainability during a pandemic; A sustainable living coach weighs in

One thing we’ve all become more conscious of in the last few years is the prevalence of single-use plastics in our day to day routine. I think most of us have tried to make little changes – bringing our canvas bags to the supermarket and creating a rigorous recycling routine – but how can we really level up in 2021, to do all that we can t create as little waste as possible and purge our routine of unsustainable materials?

Pat Kane, Dublin-based mother and founder of reuzi.ie is here to coach you into a more sustainable lifestyle, with her website that’s full of hacks and handy items to replace the wasteful ones in our lives!

Person Holding Orange Fruits in White Net

Reuzi.ie’s goal is to break the stigma around sustainability. Sustainability is not exclusive to scientists or the ‘all-or-nothing’ folk. Reuzi want to make sustainability an easy to digest subject with fun, colourful products and educational services. to encourage minimal-waste living; They want to help everyone take one extra step towards sustainable living – whether that means helping them get their first stainless steel straw to providing the tools and knowledge to transform their entire grocery shopping routine.

Pat Kane - About

‘Over the past two years, I’ve watched an incredible transformation of our society in the fight against single-use plastics. Ireland made progress on banning plastic bags, shifting from single-use plastic cups and straws to paper products and compostable alternatives. I watched the rise of sustainable living with people from all sorts of backgrounds – encouraging people to carry their own reusable cups, bottles, bags, cutlery in an attempt to reduce the amount of rubbish each and every one of us generate on a daily basis.

‘As a sustainable living champion coach and business owner, I watched people make conscious efforts to vote with their money – vote for a better world. Not only are people removing single-use plastics from their lives but I have also witnessed a shift, people choosing to shop locally over ordering from giant dot-coms with warehouses based thousands of miles away and to choose quality over quantity and so on. I've seen people letting go of plastic straws switching to metal straws, or giving reusable nappies and menstrual products a go. ‘

Metal Straws in Jar

But when, Covid-19 happened, Pat noticed how our society became dependent on masks and plastic bottles for hand sanitiser, convenient and dangerous single-use plastics. While short-term they protect us, in the long term, the mass consumption of them will be extremely harmful to the environment, with the average plastic bottle taking roughly 500 years to decompose.

So here are Pat’s top tips and tricks to avoid single-use plastics during the Covid-19 crisis.

Person Holding White Plastic Basket

Reusable Bottles

In Ireland, only a third of recyclable plastics will get recycled. A more sustainable solution would be to purchase one reusable water bottle or invest in a water filter for your home. Not only does this avoid single-use plastic from piling up in landfills, but it also sets an example for the people around you.

Reusable Coffee Cups

I hear a lot of people saying that their local cafes are still not accepting reusable cups. A way to avoid that is to order your coffee in a mug and then pour the coffee into your reusable cup.

Reusable Containers

I am getting sick of cooking at home and have been picking up food from our local restaurant as a ‘weekend treat’. If you decide to order takeaway, bring a reusable container with you.

Reusable Lunchboxes

I’ve been hearing a lot of parents reporting that their schools and Montessori are not willing to accept reusable lunchboxes. Instead, they’ve asked parents to pack their kids’ lunches in disposable plastic bags. If you don’t want to kick up a fuss but can’t bear the idea of sending a plastic bag a day to your kids’ school, I’d strongly suggest you grab paper sandwich bags and even compostable bags and adjust the menu according to it. Remember: this is a temporary move for the greater good.

Reusable Bags

Although the vast majority of shops do offer paper bags, you don’t want to be caught empty handed having to take a bag home just because you forgot yours at home. My go-to tip is: keep reusable bags in your boot to avoid the use of single-use ones altogether.

Online Shopping

It’s been reported that the UK government suspended its 5p plastic bag fee – introduced in 2015 – for online supermarket deliveries during the pandemic. Which accounts for a lot of plastic bags: Tesco, for instance, said online sales for delivery rose by 48.5% in the three months to 30 May.

If you do decide to shop online, please be mindful of packaging. Choose businesses that make an effort towards the reduction of single-use plastics and at checkout, leave a message – “Please do not use single-use plastics when packing my order”. The more we say it, the more businesses will hear it and realise that we will no longer tolerate unnecessary plastics.

Soap

The sales of soap – all types of soap – has risen dramatically over the past few months. People are buying tons of liquid hand soap packaged in plastic bottles. What happened to the good old soap bar? Prioritise soap bars over plastic bottles of soap, if you can. There are wonderful Irish made options out there so have fun looking for your favourite!

Masks, Gloves and Hand Sanitiser

This combo became a part of our daily lives, that’s a fact. But fear not, there are ways to avoid single-use plastic items when it comes to protecting ourselves while protecting others. Nowadays, almost every store and pharmacy offer reusable and washable cloth masks. When it comes to gloves, choose compostable ones – and do make sure you dispose of them correctly i.e.: the brown bin. And lastly, hand sanitiser. How many bottles have you bought over the past 3-4 months? I know someone who gathered over 30 bottles! Refill stores across the country are offering to refill your existing bottles, avoiding you having to buy one more plastic bottle and sending the old one into landfill!

Person Holding White and Green Plastic Bag

All the items that Pat has mentioned above can be sourced from reuzi.ie, Ireland's one-stop shop for eco-friendly, sustainable products.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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