It has been nearly two years since Covid19 shook our lives. Staying at home, working at home and doing everything right from the comfort of our own homes has become the new norm. With Covid19 cases still on the rise throughout the world, venturing outside unnecessarily has become a crime in itself. Ok, I freely admit. I complete most of my chores right from my house and that too from my couch. Just a click is enough for me, whether to order things online (from groceries to medicines) to pay my bills or to order my favourite food through Uber eats or Zomato.
Once my order gets delivered successfully, I diligently sanitize the carton, remove the bubble wrap or the plastic cover used to wrap the product, and empty the contents. But lately, I am struck with a question: By buying things online, aren’t I indirectly aggregating heaps of plastic that is quite detrimental to our nature? Isn’t the entire process of buying things online a way to destabilize the global efforts to restrict plastic pollution? One study found that the Covid19 pandemic has brought in an unexpected change in consumer patterns, which had led to an upsurge in online shopping and food delivery services. Since we can’t stop shopping online abruptly, the least we can do is cut down the amount of plastic waste accumulated in our households. So, here, I am suggesting a few methods that I have incorporated to cut down the generation of plastic waste in my household.
Do I need it now?
When I first decided to cut down the plastic waste, I asked myself: Do I need this thing right now? Many of us tend to browse Amazon or IKEA while getting bored (at least I am 😉). This led me to buy something that was not entirely necessary at that moment. Though I am not a mindless shopper, I accumulated many things that could have been bought later. So, as soon as I decided to contribute to a greener society, all I did was ask a simple question: Do I need this right now? You may be surprised, but the answer I got for many things I intended to buy was a big NO. I started cutting down the plastic waste sitting in my home, waiting for its disposal, by purchasing only the essentials. In this process, I saved quite a few bucks, too (Killing two birds with one stone, eh?)
Say a NO to excess packaging
Excess packaging is something we all would have experienced while buying things online. Be it Amazon or Walmart, sometimes even the smallest of items (like nail polishes, batteries, pens, etc.) get bundled in large packages, which eventually accumulates more plastic. For instance, a few months back, I purchased a tongue cleaner from Amazon that was swaddled in layers of plastic cover when I unwrapped it. So, to prevent such incidences from happening again, all I did was check the retailer information before buying. Suppose, if everything I need comes from the same retailer, I request them to combine all the materials under a single packaging.
Trying to shop from companies that use sustainable packaging
Nowadays, with eCommerce sales topping in-person retail due to the uncertainty of various factors like Covid19, many brands are devising new methods to reduce their overall carbon footprint. Many famous brands have become more conscious of the ecological impact of their products, which is reflected in their packaging and recycling strategies. Therefore, I have started making a few conscientious decisions when it comes to buying products online. Some of them are,
- Going through the type of packaging a brand uses. For instance, whether a company uses recyclable packaging or compostable packaging.
- Checking whether plastic-free packaging options are available. If not, I try to contact the company’s customer service to notify them that I need plastic-free, recyclable packaging (I know this can be a bit tricky as some companies may not get your point, but most of them have!)
Suppose, after all these measures, if I can’t avoid plastic packaging, I will check whether that packaging can be appropriately recycled by either checking their website or emailing the support team.
Opting for a pick-up
We all know food delivery apps like Zomato offer us a pick-up option for avoiding unnecessary packaging hassles. More businesses are now actively listing ‘pick-up’ as one of their delivery options while placing an order. Though opting for a pick-up during tough times like these may not work, we can try to opt for an in-store pick-up wherever it is possible.
Cutting down food delivery waste
Since the onset of Covid19, many restaurants have reduced their dining capacity or working hours, due to which the popularity of food delivery apps has grown tremendously. Statista, a German company that specializes in market and consumer data, says that the revenue of the online food delivery segment is projected to reach USD 270,317m in 2021. However, many delivered meals come with excessive baggage like a wad of napkins, plastic spoons, etc. that are not necessary. Therefore, I have started mentioning that I don’t need any excess materials by noting them either in the comments or in the special delivery instructions field.
So, these are some of the measures I have started following to cut down the plastic waste. If there are any more that could be incorporated to cut down the plastic waste even more, please do not forget to mention those in the comments box. If you like this article, please do a pin or a share in your social media handles 🙂
Leal Filho, W., Salvia, A., Minhas, A., Paço, A., & Dias-Ferreira, C. (2021). The COVID-19 pandemic and single-use plastic waste in households: A preliminary study. Science Of The Total Environment, 793, 148571. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148571
Online Food Delivery – Worldwide | Statista Market Forecast. (2021). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.statista.com/outlook/dmo/eservices/online-food-delivery/worldwide