Pandemic Affected Sustainability Prospects

How the Pandemic Affected Sustainability Prospects

During the first lockdowns in 2020, we saw immense and nearly instantaneous changes to our environment. With the global community on pause, air pollution diminished to the point where the Himalayas could be seen in India from hundreds of kilometers away for the first time in decades. Similarly, many other cities around the world experienced vastly improved air quality in a matter of days.

These drastic improvements proved to us that humans have a huge impact on the environment. If we put effort into cleaner living and infrastructure, the planet will greatly benefit.

Unfortunately, the pandemic also slowed, and in some cases halted, sustainability goals, especially concerning plastic waste. Intense lockdowns meant that economies suffered. Now, many post-COVID recovery plans focus on economic growth rather than sustainability.

medical pandemic waste

Furthermore, the increased use of medical masks (which contain plastic), sterile equipment wrapped in plastic, single-use personal protective equipment, and other plastic-based products increased the consumption of single-use plastics during that period.

Now that we are at the end of the pandemic, we need to take a look at the state of sustainability and what we can do, as companies and individuals, to not only bring us back to previous goals but to improve our impact on the planet as well. Let’s take a look at global sustainability in a post-COVID world, and one small way your company can contribute to sustainability goals.

The increased use of single-use plastic during COVID

While plastic use declined overall during the pandemic, the decrease was much smaller than the downswing in economic activity. This suggests that the diminished use of plastic had more to do with the state of the economy and lower rates of consumption rather than sustainability practices.

In spite of the overall decline in plastic use, single-use plastic consumption greatly increased. This was largely due to the need for single-use plastic in the healthcare sector and the use of single-use packaging in online shopping orders and food delivery.

Plastic bag companies also pushed the narrative that reusable bags were less sanitary than single-use plastic bags. Although these claims were later discovered to be unfounded, they led to a decrease in reusable bag sales and an increase in single-use plastic bag usage.

To top it off, lockdowns and restrictions caused a delay in recycling, resulting in disrupted service and potentially increasing the amount of discarded plastic waste.

All of these issues have led to a massive disruption in terms of plastic pollution efforts, and all stakeholders must make a concerted effort to bring us to pre-COVID strategies.

Post-COVID recovery efforts must focus on long-term sustainability, equity, and economic prosperity

Most experts agree that post-COVID recovery efforts must focus on three things:

  • Economic recovery
  • Equity and social responsibility
  • Sustainability efforts

This aligns with current sustainability best practices and pre-COVID efforts, including the Sustainable Development Goals put forward by the United Nations. Although many governments include these three important pieces in their post-COVID recovery plans, many other countries are too focused on economic recovery at the expense of the other two factors.

pandemic and economy

Furthermore, impending global recession leads to more priority being given to the economy rather than social or sustainability efforts. Although the economy is always an important consideration, long-term prosperity also depends upon sustainability efforts, and by ignoring sustainability, we as a global community are dooming ourselves to failure.

Sustainability and post-COVID recovery efforts

While many countries, mostly wealthy nations, are including sustainability as part of their post-COVID recovery efforts, other countries, primarily low- or middle-income ones, are more focused on economic growth. It makes sense; countries that have a higher income enjoy more monetary resources to explore sustainability options. Meanwhile, countries that were already struggling economically are more focused on returning to pre-COVID economic levels rather than long-term sustainability goals.

However, sustainability is a global issue, and when only a portion of nations are dedicated to sustainability efforts, it hurts overall goals. We cannot return to old practices. Instead, we must use post-COVID economic recovery as an opportunity to normalize sustainability practices and recenter ourselves around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Although government regulation can be one way for systemic environmental change to happen, it’s not something that we can rely upon; not all governments place sustainability at the center of their concerns.

When government action lacks, it’s the producers and corporations that have the greatest ability to enact positive change. They can do this by taking responsibility for their environmental footprint and encouraging their customers to do so within their own households, too.

Diminish your company’s plastic footprint by offering reusable retail bags through bk-bags

Single-use plastic bags are one of the greatest culprits in plastic pollution. While they only account for a small percentage of household waste, their ubiquity causes them to be a scourge; trillions of plastic bags are consumed globally every year. On top of this, the fact that they’re lightweight makes them incredibly difficult to manage, and even if they are discarded properly, they may catch the wind and join the trillions of other plastic bags as ocean-bound plastic pollution.

While all single-use plastics need to be eliminated in the name of sustainability, plastic bags have an easy solution that your company can turn to: reusable retail bags.

Reusable bags offer a solution to plastic waste that’s both good for the environment and good for business. Studies show that modern consumers want to support sustainable companies, and sustainability is only becoming more important in terms of consumer decisions. Failure to heed sustainability trends could lead to a loss of business. By offering reusable bags to your customers, you are illustrating a commitment to sustainability, which your customers will love.

PP woven JTF corner sewn
PP woven JTF corner sewn

Choosing bk-bags is both a prudent business decision and a positive choice for the environment. We adhere to the highest standards of sustainability and equity, from material extraction to production, ensuring that our reusable bags align with sustainability best practices. We offer a wide variety of bag materials and designs to suit any need. You can also print your company’s logo or another design on the bags, creating a unique marketing opportunity.

Interested in reducing your company’s plastic footprint by offering reusable retail bags? Contact us today!

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