On both local and national platforms, the general public are coming to terms with the new reality of social distancing and getting to grips with how best to avoid contamination of ourselves and those around us.
While vigilance pertaining to COVID-19 (coronavirus ) is an ongoing necessity, there is also the need to find a way to continue with the long-term collective goals of balancing community, safety and a healthy environment.
Great progress has been made in the past two years on the circular economy and climate awareness. Individuals are changing their consumption habits through increased reuse and reduced single-use plastic use, businesses are building sustainability plans, the Irish Government is implementing the Climate Action Plan and developing the Circular Economy Package and the EU is prioritizing the Green New Deal.
Together, the community can continue to do our part to contribute to the health of the environment even during this time of uncertainty. CRNI and VOICE have developed these tips for what can be done now to allow us to keep making progress.
Understand the facts about reuse and COVID-19
Plastic wrapped does not mean disinfected
New or packaged items aren’t necessarily more sanitary than properly disinfected reusable or secondhand items. Just because something is wrapped in plastic does not mean the product is sterile nor that the packaging is clean since all goods are passed through many hands. Tests have found that COVID-19 survives up to a day on cardboard and up to three days on stainless steel and plastic.
Read research and articles, including those on CRNI’s COVID-19 webpage (crni.ie/reuse-recycling-covid-19/ ), and continue to follow public health advice to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
What can you do while Safe at Home?
Declutter to donate
Set aside preloved items after decluttering in the attic, shed, or corner of a room to donate to social enterprises, charities/nonprofits, and voluntary organisations when they reopen. These organisations have been severely impacted due to COVID-19 closures and they will need the support of donations to jump-start their operations once reopened.
Continue your personal sustainability journeys
Avoid single use plastic usage where possible. For example, when ordering takeaway be sure to say no to throwaways — such as cutlery, napkins, straws and sachets (salt, sauce, sugar ). Be sure to continue to bring your own reusable bags when shopping. Learn how to get the most from your food to reduce food waste. See voiceireland.org/news/
Think before buying new and reuse and repair instead to reduce consumption of material goods and single-use plastics. Learn new reuse and repair skills online during this time from CRNI Members. See crni.ie/reuse-recycling-covid-19/
Continue to support waste reduction and the circular economy
Support Government action on reuse, the circular economy and single-use plastic reduction. This includes the introduction of new packaging levies and economic incentives to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging, green and social public procurement, greater development of the reuse market — which creates jobs in Ireland and shortens the supply chain — and incentives for new businesses, social enterprises, charities/non-profits and voluntary organisations that offer reuse and repair. CRNI’s key policy areas (crni.ie/key-policy-areas/ ), VOICE’s policy work (voiceireland.org/submissions.php ) and VOICE’s recent letter to Minister Bruton outline key policy areas to continue progress.
As a country — in our organisations, our communities, our families — we are demonstrating strength and resilience in taking on this COVID-19 crisis by being Safe at Home. After this, we can come together and continue to create a more sustainable environment — our collective home — to keep it safe for generations to come.