Lockdowns caused by the global pandemic have had a serious impact on global, national, and local economies, with the UK feeling the effects as much as anyone else. Not only that, the stockpiling of provisions, especially food, has meant single-use plastic is being used more despite the need to remove it from everyday societies.
With restrictions currently eased in most cities and towns, it’s important for people to try and support their local economy—without forgetting about the environment—in the fight against the coronavirus. Today we’re going to highlight the ways in which you, or anyone you know, can help small and independent businesses through a time of financial stress and continue to do your bit for the environment despite the current situation.
Support local on staycation and beyond
We’ve all seen Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative. The premise of which allows restaurants and eateries across the country to drum up some much-needed custom on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays throughout August.
But it gets you thinking, especially about the smaller businesses who support local farmers, butchers, greengrocers, and other supplies for food and drink. How do they survive once the scheme ends, especially on days of the week when people tend to eat at home?
If the easing of lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need to leave the amazing country that is the UK to have a holiday, and ultimately support local businesses through tough times.
If your plans for a Spanish villa have changed to accommodation in the Lake District or a spot at another UK location, then now is the perfect time to start buying more local produce. Whether that be at the dinner table or during the day when you’re buying groceries, or even gifts from specialist shops, there’re so many ways to support independent businesses like bakers, butchers, and even candlestick makers.
Close to six million small businesses employ more than 16 million people in the UK to help put into context the enormity of the task in hand to get more people spending their hard-earned money in local areas.
Everyone’s situation is different right now. Suddenly buying local won’t be an overnight fix, and one that may come to fruition when the virus is under control with a vaccine. But until then it’s important that if you have the opportunity to, support your local businesses in any way possible.
Sustainability is still achievable today
In Europe and the US, the plastic industry has pushed back the ban on single-use plastic due to coronavirus. This saw many of us revert back to using single-use plastic to stockpile provisions as we got used to life indoors and now, in a situation where that can still happen, the complete removal of single-use plastic isn’t quite at the stage it should be.
Restaurants and takeaways are a prime example of where plastic being used gives them a fighting chance of staying in business. And while you can understand why people have switched back to plastic during uncertain times, there’s still work that can be done to help the environment right now. After all, using hygienic disposable catering supplies doesn’t mean it can’t be biodegradable.
A recent Populus poll of 2,100 adults showed that 67 per cent were worried about an increase in plastic waste during lockdown. And if you’re worried about the current plight and the impact plastic is having on the environment, you can make small changes when you go shopping, buy a face mask, or even a coffee.
One of the top ways to go plastic-free is through grocery shopping. To get plastic-free shopping back on the agenda, the Food Standards Agency says, “there’s no need to avoid buying loose fruit and vegetables because of COVID-19”, while fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre has teamed up with zero-waste specialist Unpackaged to offer farm shops and food halls with a solution to reduce plastic packaging—known as UnpackagedAT.
Zero-waste service Loop has also just launched in the UK. Working in partnership with Tesco, the company enables customers to order groceries online which arrive in reusable containers and can be returned and then professionally washed by food and hygiene safety firm, Ecolab, once they are empty.
Heinz tomato ketchup, Persil washing liquid, Coca-Cola, and Danone yoghurt are just a few examples of the 150 products available to buy in reusable containers. Once you’re ready to send the empties back, delivery company DPD will come and pick them up.
Away from food, City to Sea, the not-for-profit organisation, recommend buying a washable face mask or making your own at home, in attempt to avoid using disposable face masks on a regular basis.
Turning old habits into new ones
After four months in lockdown and the easing of restrictions happening gradually, it’s understandable that people’s habits would see them forgetting about the importance of buying local produce or ditching single-use plastic. But with more time to think before making a purchase, the fingers of small businesses and environmental organisations are firmly crossed in the hope for a positive long-term future.