As illustrated in past blogs, the impact of single-use plastic is both widespread and potentially devastating to living organisms. In many cases, this issue, in principle, parallels the ongoing coronavirus scare, which, if left unchecked, could soon alter parts of day-to-day life. One unexpected way the virus is posing a threat is by fueling the continued implementation of single-use plastics, as anything re-usable or communal is currently being avoided, in part, as a general virus elimination protocol. 

Taking a step back

The coronavirus threat has forced many societies to grapple with tough choices — among them: whether or not to leave home, whether or not to travel, and whether or not to panic. A less daunting, but equally significant choice has been whether or not to lean fully on all things single-use, plastics included. For instance, some commentators have suggested ending key bands on plastic bags in New York to benefit a perceived greater good. These measures could theoretically be beneficial in the foreground, but they also run the risk of re-enabling old habits that originally put the environment in its current plastic pollution crisis. 

Creating problematic demand

In fact, other outlets suggest that shifts to primarily single-use plastics could actually create a demand for such products, further stoking the crisis at a key time for sustainability and strengthened awareness. In China, for instance, experts are already predicting a crucial shortage of plastic bags, and with a general reluctance to use reusable bags and similar products, the grocery and retail industries are now faced with a potential period of flux — and all the while, sustainable mindfulness has taken a backseat for other hierarchical human needs. 

Moving forward

The coronavirus has, in essence, created a symbiotic relationship with single-use plastic pollution in which both are currently thriving. Inevitable as this phenomenon is right now, we must remain vigilant in our single-use plastic reduction wherever possible — to the point where, once the virus is under control on a global scale, we are able to seamlessly resume the fight for sustainable living. In this sense, perspective is going to be key in the coming months.