According to the survey, three quarters of Britons have seen an increase in PPE waste

1. Hand sanitizer versus soap

Hand sanitizer was in high demand worldwide in 2020, but the 70% alcohol gel, which kills bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19), often comes in a plastic bottle.

To reduce plastic consumption, switch to a bar of soap and warm water when washing your hands.

Soap bars are often found in fully biodegradable packaging, which means that the environmental impact is significantly lower than that of hand disinfectants.

Alternatively, opting for liquid soap that can be refilled can reduce your plastic usage without significantly changing your lifestyle.

The government states that hand washing is just as effective as hand sanitizer in reducing the risk of illness.

2. Disposable masks versus washable masks

UCL scientists have estimated that if every person in the UK were to use a single-use mask every day for a year, we would create 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste and would have ten times the impact on climate change than reusable masks.

In a hospital setting, disposable protective clothing such as masks and gloves are contaminated items and there are systems for their safe disposal that include separation and incineration.

Surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against COVID-19 infection, followed by surgical masks.

However, there is evidence that reusable masks perform most of the tasks of disposable masks without the waste stream involved.

Material, reusable masks are a great eco-friendly alternative as long as they are washed after each use.

3. Plastic bags against material

In October 2015, the government introduced new laws to curb the use of plastic bags in the UK.

Since then, the number of plastic bags in the UK has decreased.

However, the coronavirus has resulted in more and more people turning to disposable bags. Several states in the United States ban reusable bags entirely.

While the evidence is still unclear how long COVID-19 can live on clothing, Vincent Munster of the National Institutes of Health told the BBC that the NIH speculates that it will dry out quickly on porous materials.

General advice is instead of throwing away reusable bags to make sure they are washed regularly and anyone who comes in contact with them washes their hands as well.

4. Coffee cups versus reusable

Coffee cups have been a big focus for plastic-free activists in recent years.

However, with the loosening of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of coffee shops, many are turning to disposable coffee mugs to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

Several large coffee chains that previously accepted reusable coffee cups have also discontinued their use for safety reasons.

Despite widespread concerns, more than 100 scientists, doctors, and academics have advocated the judicious use of reusable containers as safe and unlikely for the further spread of COVID-19.

Reusable cups should be washed thoroughly with soap and hot water.

5. Take away pint glasses against #PlasticFreePints

As the pubs reopened over the weekend, many turned to plastic cups to facilitate take-out orders and reduce the need for staff to touch used glasses.

Similar to the reusable coffee cups, a reusable glass or mug, if washed thoroughly, could be an easy, sustainable swap to help curb the growing coronavirus waste problem.

Ours to Save, a global climate news platform, and EcoDisco, a sustainable events company, have launched the #PlasticFreePints ​​initiative to encourage pubs to use reusable alternatives in place of the typical single-use plastic.