Throughout the pandemic, during a time of massive uncertainty, a few things have become clear. First, nothing is certain. And secondly, the only thing that is certain is how we respond to the uncertainty life throws our way.
Your reactions to current events matter.
A common collective response to COVID-19 has been a massive consumption of plastics and cleaning products. And while it's important to stay safe, we also need to pay attention to the impact these products have.
Impacts such as hidden dangers of chemicals and accumulated waste.
As women, it’s vital to keep our bodies strong. That’s how our bodies fight off threats that come its way. And using reusable products like YourCosyShop LillyPads will ensure protection against plastics, chemicals, and pointless waste.
If one thing is clear, it’s that the little mistakes add up. But so do the wins!
So before we dive into what we can do, let’s look at where we are and how we got here.
Plastic Pollution During Covid-19
Since COVID-19, demand for plastic items such as face shields, disposable masks (which are partly made of plastic), food containers, and bubble wrap for shipping have skyrocketed.¹
Single-use plastics are needed for things such as ventilators and bags for intravenous solutions. Because of this, more than a year’s worth of medical waste was generated by the United States in the first two months of the pandemic alone.¹
To understand how much of an impact plastic has made on the planet, consider this: on average, up to 80% of marine debris is made of plastic.¹ Before COVID, 8 million metric tons of plastic entered the earth’s oceans every year.²
That’s equivalent to a garbage truck every minute for an entire year.²
Adding to the plastic crisis is the fact that recycling efforts have plummeted during the pandemic.
But before we get into the why, let’s recognize recycling for what it is.
Recycling has been a problem since the beginning, with 91% of the world’s plastics never being recycled.¹ And while many companies have toted recycling efforts to effectively make the public feel better, most plastic is hard to recycle. The stuff that is reused is less viable.
The pandemic drastically lowered the demand for fossil fuel consumption. Because of this, the price for plastic (a petroleum product) lowered. This in turn caused a reduction in recycling efforts because recycling prices were effectively higher than new plastic.
In fact, recycled plastic is now 83-93% more expensive than new plastic.¹
In Europe alone, the demand for recycled material dropped by more than 20% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the previous year.¹
But there isn’t just an increase in plastic consumption and a decrease in recycling. Chemical usage has increased, too.
Chemical Products: They Can Be Harmful to Your Health and the Environment.
Why you should think twice before using certain disinfectants
After effective testing results, the EPA approved two disinfectants for COVID-19: Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist.³ This in turn led to a surge in purchases of these two products, particularly in the United States.
As you might have guessed, there are harmful side effects brought on by these chemicals.
These chemicals include the following harmful effects:⁴
- developmental effects, in children and unborn babies
- endocrine issues, or hormone production
- reproductive issues
- DNA damage
- acute aquatic toxicity – meaning when entering waterways, they’re toxic to marine life such as fish and algae
What’s more, Lysol contains ingredients called ethanol and phenol. Ethanol is poisonous to humans and can cause lung irritation.⁵
Phenol is most harmful to children and pets. It can cause:
- circulatory collapse
Lysol isn’t the only thing we use to combat the virus. Other COVID cleaning solutions include bleach.
Why is bleach bad for the environment and you?
Bleach is usually mixed with a citrus compound to make it smell pleasant. When bleach is blended with citrus blends, it creates a compound called limonene – a common volatile organic compound (VOC).
VOCs are found in many household products and impact indoor air quality. And though it’s usually mild, in large quantities it can irritate the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. This compound can even form fine particles found in smog.⁶
But wait. There’s more.
Because not only is limonene a VOC, it also forms another compound called secondary organic aerosol (SOA) – another major smog element.⁶
As you might have guessed, these elements cause health concerns. The particles are small enough to travel into your lungs and bloodstream. Short term, they cause coughing and shortness of breath. Long term exposure causes difficulty breathing and heart attacks. So people with asthma, lung conditions, or heart disease are at greater risk of the harmful effects of bleach.⁶
Plastics and Cleaning Agents and Can Be Especially Harmful to Women’s Health.
Are plastics bad for your health?
BPA, a chemical found in plastics, can increase polycystic ovarian syndrome – known to cause:⁸
- breast cancer
- ovarian cysts
PVC, another chemical found in plastic, can leach into items and liquids within plastics. This can increase weight gain, decrease lung function, and increase insulin resistance.⁸
Household products are often made of chlorine bleach, which can contain a toxin called dioxin. In one study, 80% of monkeys exposed to dioxins developed a painful disease called endometriosis – when there is an excess of uterine tissue. High exposure to dioxins has been linked to damaged immune systems, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility.⁷
With all this said, there is a silver lining.
Why Earth-Friendly Is Better During COVID-19
Initially, the Plastics Industry Association stated that germs live longer on reusable substances than on plastic. Research conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases later found that the coronavirus was only active on cardboard and paper for up to 24 hours, compared to 72 hours on plastic.¹
And whether the general public knows the above information or not, COVID-19 has caused us to reevaluate how we live.
Since the pandemic, 64% of Americans have been inspired to live more sustainable lives.⁹
We at YourCosyShop recognize that you, too, have your body and the planet in mind.
As women, it’s important to recognize that how we treat our bodies corresponds with how we treat the environment. Because that’s nature, baby.
There are healthy, earth-friendly options available!
How Can You Take Care of Yourself and the Environment?
For sanitizing our hands, it is suggested to sanitize hands regularly with alcohol-based sanitizers because they won’t affect your hormone production.⁸
If you’re looking for a non-alcohol based sanitizer, consider the following information:
- Herbal-based sanitizers, especially Thyme oil-based are a great option.
- Benzalkonium Chloride is ok in a pinch but don’t use it exclusively. Keep in mind it can irritate the skin.
- Stay away from Triclosan due to its hormone-producing side-effects.
For household products, try the following woman-friendly options:
- Seventh Generation for household cleaning and detergent.
- Hydrogen Peroxide for stain removal.
- Arm and Hammer baking soda in place of bleach products and laundry detergents. Plus – it’s completely non-toxic.⁸
Other Sustainable Ways to Stay Safe
We also thought it would be helpful to give you a few tips on how you can live a more sustainable, clean existence in this new normal.
With solutions like these, you’ll be well on your way to promoting greater wellness practices while also protecting yourself, your home, and your planet.
You Can Stay Safe Sustainably!
Have you ever noticed that when you buy an excellent product you just physically feel better? It’s true! And now it’s more important than ever to do everything we can to live consciously, with wellness in mind. It’s the little things. And the products and practices we choose correlate with our health and our planet.
That’s why at YourCosyShop, it’s our mission to provide you with comfortable, safe, reusable menstrual pads that are plastic-free, chemical-free, and made of ultra-soft bamboo.
You’ve changed habits in cleaning, eating, and purchasing. You’ve masked-up and gloved-up to protect yourself and those around you. You’ve come to understand that it’s not just you and your home on this great big planet.
Collectively, with everyone performing the same practices as you, the world accumulates quite an impact.
Let’s make an impact for good.
Let’s contribute to the collective and do our part.
Let’s take care of the small spaces each of us claim. For our bodies, and for each other.