Giving Compass' Take:

• L.V. Anderson reminds readers of the effectiveness of the zero-waste movement before coronavirus forced restrictions on reusable goods.

• While coronavirus receives justifiably dominant attention, climate issues won't disappear either. What can you do to support the zero-waste movement through the pandemic? 

• Read a list of resources to guide your coronavirus giving.

Starbucks announced last Wednesday that it is “pausing the use of personal cups and ‘for here’ ware in our stores” due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and Dunkin’ and Tim Hortons quickly followed suit.

Reusing goods and packaging as many times as possible, instead of disposing of them and then buying new ones, is one of the greenest practices there is. It prevents energy and resources from being spent on manufacturing and shipping new stuff. It diverts old stuff from landfills and oceans. These facts are at the heart of the so-called zero-waste movement, which has spawned books, blogs, and package-free stores in recent years.

Given the rapid, worldwide spread of COVID-19 — the severe respiratory disease caused by this new coronavirus — all manner of reuse habits that just a few months ago might have been considered environmentally virtuous now invoke the same kind of germaphobic fear response as a public coughing fit.

Take a disposable plastic bottle, Szaky said. “That bottle is going to be moving through a bottle plant. It’s going to be put onto a pallet. That whole process is being touched and dust is being collected on it,” he said. “In no way should you take the message from me that a disposable package is dangerous … It’s just not surgically sterile and not even close.”

Regardless of how long the coronavirus epidemic lasts, the problems of environmental degradation, climate change, and plastic pollution will still be with us when it ends. So Szaky says, don’t take coronavirus as a sign you need to give up your vintage clothing habit or avoid shopping at a package-free store. “That’s really important for the environment to do, and we shouldn’t suddenly forsake that because of all the fear around this particular issue,” said Szaky.

Read the full article about coronavirus and the zero-waste movement by L.V. Anderson at Grist.