I was finally going out to enjoy my first cup of coffee from my favorite espresso shack in town since the COVID restrictions were put in place at the beginning of March. This previously familiar morning stop, now felt like a new experience filled with anticipation and uncertainty.
Over half of my friends are small business owners in the small town of Leavenworth so I know that the COVID shutdown has not been easy. Small businesses already struggle to pay high rent prices, and now the same is expected with no steady income. The places that small business owners have created in town are more than just shops, they are community gathering spaces that would be tragic to lose. So it’s time to support the small businesses in every way we can, through gift cards, online orders and curbside pickup.
Thus I wait in line at the curb to support the coffee shop and treat myself to a morning beverage. Yet I can’t shake how wrong it feels not to be able to hand over my reusable mug to be filled.
The demand and utilization of single-use plastic has gone up dramatically across the board due to challenges and fear surrounding contamination and the spread of the virus. Single-use plastic is an essential part of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the medical industry and other workplaces, but is the uptick necessary everywhere and how can we find the balance?
I happily receive my latte in a paper cup and decline the offer of the plastic lid, finding my own balance for the morning. As we begin to emerge from our homes to support local businesses, we can keep sustainability a priority even with the increase in single-use plastic and take-out containers. Public health is always a priority, but there are ways to reduce waste while keeping ourselves and our families safe. Below are a few simple ideas.
So take a moment and breathe before you instantly purchase a single-use item. Is it really needed? The quarantine may be the perfect opportunity to become self-aware and reflect on our consumption and how it affects the world around us.