Life & Style

4 Simple and Sustainable Ways to Keep Safe during COVID-19

Love tree environment. Photographed by Happy Max. Image via Shutterstock

Help prevent the spread one sustainable way at a time.

In its 48th year, Keep Australia Beautiful week is spreading its roots once more this August with their Litter: Prevent the Spread campaign.

Blossoming across social media from Monday 17 to Sunday 23 August, we’ve partnered with Keep Australia Beautiful to raise awareness on all things Australians can do to reduce their impact on the environment and what else we can do to take action. Naturally due to unprecedented circumstances fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Keep Australia Beautiful has looked to single-use items that have become used more than ever before.

Think face masks and gloves, hand sanitiser, tissues and of course takeaway packaging – items that can cause serious harm to Australia’s nature and wildlife if they end up as litter in the environment.

Encouraging Aussies – young and old – to keep and stay safe, Keep Australia Beautiful has also turned their attention to where these items end up and how we can become smarter when it comes to recycling and reusing, overall preventing the spread of litter in our beautiful country.

Keep Australia Beautiful CEO, Val Southam said that due to the pandemic, many more items have become prevalent in the litter stream.

“Under COVID-19, our daily behaviour was forced to change. We are introducing other things into the waste stream that normally would not be there on a large scale,” says Ms Southam.

“Things such as disposable face masks and gloves. People are also purchasing more take away food, resulting in more containers being disposed of, not to mention the increase of disposable coffee cups brought on by people not being able to use their reusable coffee cups.”

So here are four common, COVID-19 related products accompanied by some tips and alternatives to help keep both you and the environment safe:

1. Face Masks and Gloves

Tip: Single-use face masks and gloves should always go in the general waste bin to avoid contaminating recycling.
Alternative: Opt for reusable masks and gloves that can be washed and worn again to keep landfill waste down.

2. Hand Sanitiser

Tip: Always opt for a larger sized bottle – it will last longer and is more economically conscious. You can use this to refill pocket-sized hand sanitisers.
Alternative: Wearing your reusable gloves when you’re out in the community means you don’t need to carry hand sanitisers.

3. Tissues and Wipes

Tip: Both of these must always go in the general waste bin, never flushed down the toilet.
Alternative: Avoid wipes altogether if you can as they only add to landfill. Hand sanitiser on a cloth or face washer works just as well.

4. Takeaway Food and Drink Containers

Tip: Recycle clean containers and boxes only to avoid contaminating the rest of the recycling. Remember, plastic bags can’t go in kerbside recycling bins.
Alternative: Say no to as many surplus, unnecessary waste items such as plastic cutlery, straws, coffee cup lids and plastic carry bags. Otherwise, look to ways that you can reuse or reduce plastic packaging.

Although single-use items have become essential in helping us avoid the transmission of COVID-19, these often plastic made products can also cause serious harm to nature if they end up as litter in the environment. Let this guide help you reduce and dispose of these things the right way.

According to Dr Trevor Thornton from Deakin University, contamination rates in domestic recycling have increased in the last six months – up to 30% in some regions, with 10% to 15% being the national standard. Dr Thornton believes the key is simple education about what can and cannot go into recycling to reduce confusion.

“We don’t expect to change people’s lifestyles, but by educating the community on how to correctly dispose of the items and what happens to them when they do, helps build awareness,” said Dr Thornton.

For more information on Keep Australia Beautiful week and how you can help, visit their website.

Meanwhile, we’re having our very own sustainable moment at Hunter and Bligh as we focus on the simple ways to live our lives better. Head to our Instagram page to find out more about #HBGoesGreen.

Looking to go zero waste? We partnered with The Source Bulk Foods to find 7 easy ways to lead a waste-free life. Or, if you’re looking on how to go a bit more green with what you wear, we’ve got 5 tips on how to be more sustainable with your wardrobe here.

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