Sustainability and the Pandemic
Updated: May 28
Jenieki Young, Memorial University of NL
Channeling an eco-conscious lifestyle was not in my plans but by growing up in Belize I have always had a love for nature and after spending three years on an icy island in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador; I diverted into a conscious lifestyle where I’m mindful of my choices and how it affects the earth. Moving to Toronto, Canada made me realize that cities are where people tend to care less about nature due to the hustle and bustle lifestyle.
Speaking of hustle and bustle the city went into a full panic once the global pandemic hit last year.
Covid-19 has caused the fear of using reusable bags at the grocery store.
Let's talk about not being able to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store during the Pandemic. Did you know that a few grocery stores were not permitting the use of reusable bags? Do you prefer using a plastic bag or your own reusable bag during this time?
As places slowly started to reopen, a few grocery stores were still prohibiting customers from using their reusable bags. I understand that there is a need to have certain restrictions for healthy practices, especially during Covid-19. However, I am not convinced that using a plastic bag from the store will mitigate the problem. Of course, many will disagree that it is better to use a plastic bag instead of a reusable bag as we want to be mindful of our health during the Pandemic.
I prefer to take my reusable bag because I know I have taken the necessary precautions to keep it clean. Keep in mind that you are still advised to wipe down your groceries once you arrive home from the grocery store, so why the need for so many unnecessary plastic bags?
We are aware of the trouble with plastic bags, beginning with their production, which requires fossil fuels and emits many greenhouse gases. Then, you're lucky if you get a few uses out of one before the flimsy material develops a rip. Yet scientists estimate that it takes plastic bags over 500 years to degrade, and, in the meantime, they litter our streets, trees, and oceans and end up inside marine animals. When plastic finally breaks down into tiny microplastics, these can accumulate inside animals, causing severe health issues.
I can understand sometimes it may be difficult to avoid plastic, but you can reduce the number of plastic bags you use regularly.
A few other ways to improve your habits:
1. Use your own reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags.
2. Plastic bags can be challenging to recycle, so it is wise to reuse plastic shopping bags at home for as long as you can. (use for small trash cans)
3. Further educate yourself on how plastic bags are a serious environmental problem worldwide and are causing huge issues that affect human and animal health.
4. Search for stores nearby that offer you credit for using a reusable bag.
5. Join a community group in your area to continue learning and sharing your knowledge with your friends and family. For example, Plastic Free Toronto - www.plasticfreetoronto.ca
Quick facts about single-use plastic bags
i. It takes years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. (Unfortunately, the bags don't break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.)
ii. An average family will use 60 plastic bags on four visits to the supermarket.
iii. Only 1 to 3% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide.
iv. 160,000 plastic bags are used globally every second!
v. Plastic bags cause the death of many marine animals when they are mistaken for food.
For more info check out www.theworldcounts.com
How did you feel about not being able to use your reusable bags in the grocery store during covid?
To learn more about Jenieki and her journey through sustainability, visit her blog linked down below!