| Environmental Columns
Does the zero-waste movement have its place in the COVID-19 pandemic?
In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every sphere of our lives. Working from home, school closures, fewer outings, less travel and human contact, tighter health and sanitation guidelines; we have all had to rethink our daily lives.
Among these changes in habits, we have seen a return of single-use and disposable items. In addition, practices to reduce waste at the source, through bulk purchases using our own containers, or second-hand items, have become less frequent.
With all these reconsiderations, it is important to distinguish between those that are necessary for safety and those that can be avoided.
Zero waste is still possible
While disposable items are necessary in certain situations, reusable solutions are often possible. For example, on the street, in public transit or in enclosed public places, wearing a reusable mask is safe, as long as it fits properly and is worn and handled according to public health guidelines and washed after every use.
As for zero-waste habits, such as buying in bulk and using reusable containers, the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ), which is responsible for food safety and security issues, has not taken a stance against bulk grocery stores. Merchants and customers are responsible for following hygiene instructions and practices: do not visit a store if you have symptoms associated with COVID-19, have clean hands when entering the store, use only clean containers that are in good condition, maintain a distance of two metres from others and follow the merchant’s instructions. The surfaces and equipment available to customers must also be washed more regularly than before. This said, some merchants now refuse to serve customers in their own containers. Given the circumstances of the pandemic, it is important to respect this choice.
Zero waste: more than bulk groceries
Participants in our first Zero-Waste Challenge may have a harder time using their reusable containers to shop, but it will still be possible for them and for anyone wanting to take concrete steps to reduce at the source to choose other actions that have a tangible impact on the amount of waste generated in the environment.
There are several other effective solutions that will be discussed throughout the Zero-Waste Challenge and tested by our participating families, each at their own pace and based on their own reality.
An opportunity to re-examine your habits
Working towards zero waste also means thinking about your daily consumption, reducing unnecessary purchases, fighting against food waste, reusing and repairing before throwing away and questioning the origin of your purchases.
Zero waste is a movement that promotes the reduction of waste at the source, an objective that Pointe-Claire has been pursuing for several years to ensure a healthier environment for future generations. Therefore, even during a health crisis, the objective must be kept, and creative solutions must be found in accordance with new health regulations and based on each person’s capabilities.
Stay tuned for special zero-waste columns and testimonials from the families that will be posted on the Zero Waste page throughout the Challenge.
Best of luck to all the participating families. Let the Zero-Waste Challenge begin!
References consulted in writing this column:
- De la Fontaine, Mélissa (2020). COVID-19 et le zéro déchet. Incita, https://incita.ca/covid-19-vs-zero-dechet/
- Association québécoise zéro déchet (2020). COVID-19 et zéro déchet, https://www.aqzd.ca/covid-19-et-zero-dechet/