Much was made of a period of cleaner air during weeks of coronavirus shutdown around the world, one of the rare upsides of the pandemic.
But urgent concerns for safety and sanitization have led to a shocking resurgence of plastic waste, a global problem that was hardly getting under control even before the outbreak.
Plastic wrapping, plastic bags, masks, face shields, sheets of plastic and plexiglass, plastic hand sanitizer bottles, and plastic cups are filling garbage cans and landfills, and ending up littering the ground and in the waterways.
Many of the plastics for which demand has increased are the hardest to recycle, according the the Wall Street Journal, which says demand for flexible plastics has jumped 10% this year, and the plastics industry is lobbying to end the bans on their products, like plastic grocery bags, that many communities have enacted to reduce waste. (Curious, since the coronavirus has been found to survive several days longer on plastic surfaces than on wood, glass, paper, cardboard or fabric surfaces.)
Humans produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year -- 50% is single-use, according to Plastic Oceans. More than 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year, 90% of all seabirds have plastic in their stomachs, and one in three species of marine mammals have been found entangled in plastic.
So if you want to double down on reducing plastic waste, start at home. Here’s 30 ways to reduce or eliminate plastic from your life.