The last month have been a time for adjustment as empty shops and restaurants filled with eyes watching you over N95 masks and repressed travel hungry Sri Lankans peppering the beaches and creating big city traffic in the thick of the jungles.
Our last piece was released during a yet another time when we were confined to our homes, trying to figure out how to upgrade our lockdown lifestyles. Although restrictions are relaxing the transition into our typical work routines and travel plans isn’t smooth with the constant need to sanitize and dispose in addition to a trusty mask that’s always close at hand. But how do you work and live through the everyday routine set against a background of a careful and sanitized world? And how do our sustainable habits measure up in world that is continually unfamiliar?
Last year alone 1.56 billion masks polluted oceans. While plastic products were important for our protection (think of all the masks, gloves and sanitizer bottles you threw away every week) it also contributed to the other fight we face- climate change.
As we get back into the weekday bind and the weekend binge here are a few ways in which you can stay safe and sustainable.
Mask Pollution, Mass Problems
Despite the myths, cloth masks have been shown to be just as effective as protecting us from germs as disposable masks. According to research, any cloth mask is safe for use as long as it consists of 2 layers of material and covers at least 50% of the length of the nose and extend about 25 mm under the chin. Maintaining them isn’t difficult as they can be machine washed according to the manufacturer’s instructions or washed at 600C for 20 seconds to kill off any virus particles, which must be done after use. You’ll also be helping your wallet as most of these masks have along lifespan and can be used up to 30-50 times. On the other hand, the Life Cycle Assessment of single-use reusable face masks concluded that single use plastic masks would result in ‘ten times more climate change impact than using reusable masks.
Trip Wise, Save…Lives??
Planning your next post travel-restriction free getaway? Opt for a more sustainable approach to ease your wallet and your carbon footprint! Here are some easy ways in which you can be more sustainable towards the environment and still have fun
The Game Plan- instead of a big budget hotel choose a budget friendly/ local venue for your next getaway. Social media is full of budget friendly family run villas and bungalows. You might be able to adjust the menus and other facilities to your requirements and you’ll also be supporting small local businesses!
Snacks for Days- Before you head out to the shops for manioc chips or devilled nuts take a quick peek into your fridge and cupboards at home. Your pantry is a treasure trove of delicious ideas to whip up and pack for your upcoming holiday. You also won’t have to worry about food going bad when you get back home after 2-3 days.
A Little Kit Goes a Long Way
Heading back into work means looking forward to lots of coffee/tea refills and quick
lunches. Most people have a designated coffee mug or the ceramic office tea cups. Add a little case with your own cutlery and crockery. It is small enough to slip into your handbag or laptop bag and you never have to throw away plastic utensils. You’ll also feel safer knowing that your cutlery/ crockery is sanitized and safe for use. Add a foldable cloth bag to the mix. It will come in handy when you are picking up those last minute groceries or take away dinners on the way home and expose you to any contactable germs.
You’ve got a Friend… in Local Businesses
The rise of the pandemic also saw an increase in creative entrepreneurs and small
businesses. Before heading into the city for your next shopping free check out your neighbourhood vendors or online businesses that are easily found across social media platforms. From fruit and vegetables, cooked food, to custom gifts and sustainable clothes, you won’t just possess high quality and customizable products but you’ll also be supporting the local community and with sustainable businesses- the environment too.
 https://www.businesstoday.in/coronavirus/story/covid-19-hazard-156-bn-masks-pollute-oceans-in-2020-claims-study-283044-2020-12-30  the Sri Lanka Standard Guideline for Non-Medical Reusable Cloth Face Masks  https://www.slsi.lk/images/SLS-Standards/SLS-1675-2020-Reusable_Cloth_Mask.pdf  https://www.thebulb.eco/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/The-Bulb_Sustainability-Safety-and-Events-Post-Lockdown_A-Guide_170720.pdf  Ibid
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