Today, we are facing probably the toughest time in our lives. We cannot get out of the house freely for any purpose necessary because of the pandemic. People are literally dying and suffering from the pandemic, and it happens all over the world.
Well, being locked inside is boring, and during this time we tend to be more consumptive than being productive. Thus, during this hard time of corona virus pandemic, don’t you know that we are facing another big problem that not many of us realize?
It is not about a new virus or an evolved version of the virus that can spread airborne. It is something more visible and actually inevitable: trash. We are producing so much trash and waste in this time of staying at home and it seems like we are going to drown in it.
Want to know more about this problem? Here in this article we are indeed going to talk about it.
Less Is More?
Wait, do we produce more waste during this self-quarantine period than normal days? In this self-quarantine period, many people think that the production of stuff is reduced and the consumption of things increase.
However, not all productions are reduced because the producers of most essential parts of our lives keep going on almost like normal. You know that most restaurants are still open for takeaway orders, right? You know that many factories are using machine to speed up their production rate, right?
Emily Atkins wrote in her newsletter, Heated, that this is a fact. “While commercial waste has decreased due to businesses shutting down, residential waste appears to be rising, quickly”.
It means we should not consider the waste produced by producers are reduced into minimal. But then comes the second problem: our consumption rate is increasing. Maybe you already catch the feeling that you spent so much during this self-quarantine period, and it is maybe true.
How many of you get through this quarantine by eating foods delivered to your house? Food consumption is indeed increasing significantly because the stress rate is too. The thing is, most delivery foods come with cardboard packages.
In addition to that, other packages you order from the internet are most likely being packaged in cardboard. No matter what you order, from fitness equipment like treadmill to small things like succulent, most likely they come in cardboard packages or other kinds of packaging.
More Than Cardboard
Cardboard crisis is not the only problem we have to deal with nowadays. Even though many packaging include cardboard, there is another part of it that we tend to forget: plastic. Don’t forget about the plastic wrapping your new treadmill and plastic cups that your coffee comes with, because it is the real deal.
It is widely used all around the world, which means that it will add up our planet’s plastic deposit for another century or more during this period alone. We all know that most trash collection plants only pretend to recycle most plastic that comes to them.
Let alone the fact that COVID-19 virus can stay on plastic surface up to 3 days, which make many garbage collection workers don’t want to deal with it. An example of it comes from Hamilton, Ontario where garbage collection workers refuse to work after learning that fact.
The workers are demanding for adequate supplies of personal protective equipment. The equipment includes masks and gloves, as well as sanitizer and wipes on waste collection vehicles. Before their demands are fulfilled, the trash would keep on piling on the streets.
Another case comes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where garbage collection workers do the same strike. “Waste workers in Pittsburgh on Wednesday refused to do collections after they said two colleagues had tested positive for coronavirus and the sanitation department hadn’t told them,” Saabira Chaudhuri stated in Wall Street Journal.
Risky Trash Pickup
In this period, indeed garbage pickup is one of the riskiest jobs out there. Adam Minter wrote in Bloomberg that every single sanitary worker needs to realize it as soon as possible to further avoid worsening this condition.
“Large-scale home quarantining, combined with large numbers of asymptomatic individuals, means that at least some of the medical trash generated in the U.S. (including all those masks) will be in home and office garbage and recycling bins. Nobody knows how much of a risk Covid-19 trash poses to sanitation workers,” he wrote.
Asymptomatic individuals mean people who carry the virus either in their body but showing none to less symptoms related to COVID-19 infection. Those people are the most dangerous carrier, because they show no symptoms and pay less attention to their interaction with other individuals.
In this case, not every person they interact with will show similar reaction to the virus infection. Some people can catch the disease and show worse condition than them, even possibly ends up with the worst effect. The problem is, these people still consume things and produce contaminated waste.
What does all this mean? It means that sanitary workers are at high risk of being contaminated with COVID-19. And as soon as all sanitary workers all around the world happens to realize it, probably there will be no regular pickup without them being equipped with adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.
Zero Waste To Fight COVID-19
This is our time to reduce our waste production, and among all other times this is the best time to do it. Not only it helps the earth, it also helps the sanitary workers (who are still working) to avoid catching the virus during garbage collection.
Who knows that one of us might be asymptomatic individual? Who knows that the cup of plastic you throw away into the garbage is contaminated? Who knows that the leftover of your food is contaminated with the virus that comes from your saliva?
Zero-waste lifestyle is the best lifestyle to cope with, since nowadays you tend to cook at home than going out for meals. Learn to make compost from your leftovers and peels, and start your own vegetable garden at home. It is fun, you know.
Another thing that we should notice is our online shopping habit. During quarantine, we tend to spend a lot of time looking for stuff on the internet to get rid of our boredom. In this case, try to not buy over-packaged stuff, because the packaging would definitely go to the trash.