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(Rightful) Efforts To Contain The Coronavirus Are Sparking Unsustainable Practices

(Rightful) Efforts To Contain The Coronavirus Are Sparking Unsustainable Practices

Late January, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared a “public health emergency of international concern” for the COVID-19, or Coronavirus. Since then, communities around the globe are collectively taking panic to the situation. 

As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the world is changing at a rapid pace. Whether it be individuals taking grocery stores by storm, universities moving education onto an online platform, or companies implementing additional sanitary practices to ensure the safety of the public, many individuals are altering their daily practices. However, amidst these changes, the environment is suffering its fair share of repercussions.

Coronavirus Limits Ability To Use Reusable Products

After years of convincing others to use reusable cups and other items, Coronavirus is hindering much of the progress made.

Earlier this month, Starbucks announced its halt on the use of “personal cups and ‘for here’ ware” in its stores. To prevent the spread and contamination in its stores, the company initially banned reusable ware across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. However, with the spread of the Coronavirus, Starbucks has extended this ban in the United States and many other countries.

However, what does this mean for the greater scope of the environment?

With over 14,000 cafes in the United States and over 27,000 worldwide, Starbucks conducts over 90 million transactions per week. Unfortunately, the coffee giant produces a near equivalent amount of container and packaging waste through to-go drinks and meals. 

At this moment, there does not seem to be a viable and healthy replacement for stopping reusable ware. However, without the option to use personal mugs and travel cups, the indefinite ban will soon create more environmental problems.

With similar initiatives from companies such as Dunkin’ and Tim Hortons, the end of this epidemic may reveal shocking amounts of single-use wastes in landfills. 

Some American States Go Take-Out Only

Alongside the ban of reusable personal ware, states across the country are adopting even drastic measures to contain Coronavirus’ spread. 

This Sunday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that all dine-in bars and restaurants in Illinois will be closed to the public. This ban will be implemented at the close of business Monday, March 16, through March 30. However, these establishments will be able to serve the public through delivery and drive-thru options. 

With similar policies, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, and many more are shutting down dine-in options to the public.

Similar to company restrictions to reusable personal ware, these new initiatives leave many with no other option but to order their restaurant meals to-go. With this comes a seemingly unavoidable amount of waste. From plastic containers to plastic bags, the new ban will soon bring about an unsustainable nightmare.

We Can All Play Our Parts

With that being said, it is understandable why the government and company officials are implementing precautionary policies to ensure the well-being of the public. It seems like the best path to containing the Coronavirus.

This means we need to all work harder to make sure how we’re reacting doesn’t leave sustainability on the backburner.

For instance, when we use single-use products, we can remember to dispose of our waste properly. And wherever possible, we can recycle to mitigate the number of items sent into landfills.

For now, the Coronavirus pandemic might slow the pace down in our daily lives. But that doesn’t mean our environmental efforts have to slow down too.

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