‘More masks than jellyfish!’

DID you see this headline recently in the national newspaper. Is it true? Has somebody been counting all the masks in the oceans? Or indeed all the jellyfish!

What we do know is that single-use plastic has been essential in the fight against COVID-19. In a myriad of medical applications, single-use plastic has been at the forefront of controlling infection and saving lives throughout the world.

In our hospitals and other medical facilities, all waste is disposed of appropriately but what about the masses of gloves, masks, etc. that are disposed of by the public following use whilst out and about? And what about the medical single use plastic used elsewhere in the world in places that perhaps don’t have such advanced disposal facilities as we do in the UK?

I guess we’ll never know. But there are reports of disposable gloves and masks disposed of inappropriately, being washed up on our shores and blowing down the streets. It’s probably inevitable with the huge increase in consumption of single-use plastics during the pandemic.

But there have also been instances where people have felt it safer to use a single-use product where it has now been proved unnecessary and we can revert back to our earlier, more environmentally-friendly ways.

One example is people preferring to buy pre-wrapped fruit and vegetables rather than selecting their own. A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report concludes that there is no increase in risk in choosing loose fruit and vegetables. WHO states that there have been no known cases of transmission of COVID-19 through food or food packaging. You can read more about this by clicking here.

Similarly, I don’t know if you remember at the beginning of this pandemic, big coffee chains such as Costa and Starbucks said that they would no longer be able to allow ‘keep-cups’ and would only serve take away drinks in their disposable cups? The concern was that staff could contract COVID-19 from the customer cup.

#ContactlessCoffee have now worked out how people can use their ‘keep-cup’ without danger of cross infection between the barista/staff and customers. You can find out more about this at www.citytosea.org.uk/contactless-coffee/

The Whole Hog, Galley Café and the Good Food Café & Deli in Lyme Regis all allow ‘keep cups’ for their hot drinks.

As we start to feel our way to what might be the new normal, let’s hope that we can continue to be mindful and creative and find ways not just reverting to unnecessary  single use plastic to overcome the fear of infection.

Now who wants to join me for a snorkel expedition counting jellyfish?

Grenville Barr
Chairman, Plastic Free Lyme Regis 

Woodmead Halls
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