Back To A Throwaway Society?

As a keen 14-year-old environmental campaigner I find the positive focus on the climate crisis during this global coronavirus pandemic uplifting but also intriguing, is it real? 

air air pollution climate change dawn
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At a time when worldwide carbon emissions are rapidly decreasing (yay!), I wonder if there’s also a comparable increase in the use of disposables.  Certainly, before Covid 19, reusables were rising in popularity. From my mum’s festival where they introduced a wash-your-own cup system to my Dad’s old office at the BBC where they banned single-use straws, in so many industries and businesses across the country reusables were becoming the new normal, a regular part of the day to day life. And yet within a few months, we seem to have lost this pattern of behaviour and returned to our disposable ways. 

Of course, I am not undermining the current need for these disposables, PPE is already lacking in this country, and people’s main priority is rightly their safety and wellbeing, not to mention the need for these protections to be mirrored across classes and be available to everybody, no matter their socio-economic position. And I’m not suggesting that I have the answers. 

photo of person holding pen
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But I wonder whether anyone else is noticing the changes in their activity. I recently came across Lauren Singer, a strong campaigner of a zero-waste lifestyle, she hasn’t sent anything to the landfill for 8 years. 11 weeks ago she published on her Instagram account a piece about the effect the global situation has had on her no-waste lifestyle. She wrote, ‘I sacrificed my values and bought items in plastic. Lots of it and plastic that I know isn’t recyclable…’

photo of plastic bottles
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

This struck a chord as our weekly shops have turned into a mission to get in and out asap without taking nearly as much notice of the packaging as we used to. My waste consumption has definitely increased during these strange times, and I wonder how hard it will be to return to our sustainable practices after Covid-19. 

Written By: Esther Bird

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