News reports from 2020 will contain images of people walking down the street and driving their cars wearing masks and disposable gloves, and of supermarket shelves stripped bare of cleaning products, toilet rolls and eggs!
News reports will chiefly focus on panic buying, on concerns over supplies of basic produce, on life under lockdown, and on the effectiveness of wearing masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the virus.
Will these reports tell the full story? Or could it be clear once the fog of lockdown and social distancing is behind us that there wasn’t enough said about the environmental cost of coronavirus?
Face masks, disposable gloves, anti-bacterial wipes, single-use plastic bottles and an increase in cleaning chemicals – all of these take their toll on the environment.
With a vaccine against coronavirus still some way away, we all need to do everything we can to explore more environmentally friendly options.
Understanding Available Products
The first step to reducing waste is to understand what products are available and the level of protection that you need for your workplace.
Face masks are becoming a new normal for many people and businesses are starting to provide them across the workforce. It is critical that any business who were providing masks prior to Covid-19 continue to only provide the necessary standard to keep their workforce safe from workplace dangers. For many businesses however, other than Covid-19 there is no requirement for masks. For these businesses there is an option to reduce volume of waste from providing disposable masks by moving to reusable masks.
A more environmentally friendly option, a re-useable mask worn to cover the nose and mouth will trap the wearer’s coughs and sneezes and, providing it is washed daily, will prevent the spread of germs. Remember, though – it is only effective at protecting the wearer if everyone in the workplace wears one at all times.
Gloves also do not need to be single-use to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Many workwear gloves will offer adequate protection against germ transfer – providing they are washed daily – and will also be safer and more comfortable to wear.
Hand sanitiser and many cleaning products can often be purchased in large quantities from which smaller containers can be refilled when they run out. Not only is this often a more cost-effective option, but it helps to significantly reduce the number of single-use plastic containers that end up in landfill.
Consider alternative products
For many people wipes have become a daily essential and, in some cases, this is the only way of quickly sanitising surfaces. It is possible to purchase a sanitising, disinfectant, aerosol spray that doesn’t need to be wiped down and doesn’t smear. This provides an effective alternative to wiping down handles, vehicle interiors and other surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes.
Due to its nature, the coronavirus pandemic will doubtless take its toll on the environment but, by following these simple steps, businesses will be doing their bit to lessen its impact in their workplace.
For more information on protecting your employees against coronavirus, visit our dedicated coronavirus web pages or give us a call on 0121 749 4433.