The Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges including a new household focus on infection control as we strive to stay safe and flatten the curve – and sadly there have also been some unintended environmental impacts. Discarded medical masks, latex gloves and disinfecting wipes are littering the streets and ending up in landfills. Personal safety products and practices are essential for everyone, but we can all reduce our waste by making eco friendly choices in this new pandemic world:
1. Reusable face masks
There are a ton of choices now available for non medical face masks as manufacturers and local crafters have answered the call of COVID-19. Recent research has found that mask wearing is a fairly effective safety precaution but not all styles and fabrics are created equal. To find a face mask that is going to work for fit and comfort, there are a couple of things to look for:
- Fabric – choose a natural fabric that is soft and won’t irritate your skin ie. cotton
- Sizing – look for mask sizing options so that it will properly fit your face
- Adjustable – adjustable ear loops and nose piece for a proper fit
- Washable – a quick wash won’t destroy it.
There are many examples but we like this made-in-BC handmade reusable face mask by Okanagan Stitching Company (which may be ordered online with very reasonable shipping). The option to measure your face width to determine your size (large, small, or child) is next level and this mask is fully adjustable and machine washable.
2. Skip the disposable gloves
Public health is not recommending wearing gloves for everyday activities in BC which makes sense as gloves don’t prevent the transfer of virus from one place to another. Just remember to wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face when you are out and about. By making the choice to skip the gloves, you will help keep a significant amount of waste from ending up in the landfill.
While hand sanitizer is very popular, it has proven to be hard to find at times during the pandemic. An old-fashioned bar of soap is all you really need at home. Check out this hand-crafted Pumpkin Pie soap by Poco Soap Co. This company’s plastic free shipping policy is a stand out, not to mention the products are all kinds of natural with ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils. In fact, it almost looks good enough to eat!
3. Reusable cloths
Disinfecting wipes – which are non disposable and create a lot of waste – are easily replaced by a locally made reusable cloth and a disinfectant when cleaning with coronavirus in mind. There are lots of eco conscious shops in the Metro Vancouver area to shop at if you don’t have an old dish cloth or a ripped pillow case to make one from.
Here’s a cute and very affordable reusable cloth set from White Rock Handmade on Etsy with 3 cloths for $7 and free delivery.
When your goal is to disinfect high traffic surfaces in the home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to use an approved cleaner which you will find on this Government of Canada approved list. For the eco conscious, try rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol which is a common ingredient on the list) with a few drops of essential oils such as lemon or peppermint for aromatherapy.
We’ve come to the point in this pandemic where we know what we need to do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, and it’s very achievable to do all these things while staying true to our values around environment. So keep your distance and put on your handmade mask when you go out, suds up your hands with a local product and shop local for your cleaning products. We’ve got this Vancouver!