Zero Waste during a pandemic

By Carol Chamberland, Central NM Zero Waste Chair

It seems like I’m writing from a different planet today. The pandemic is wreaking havoc and cratering our economy. Millions of Americans are unemployed, hundreds of thousands are dead. Police murders of Black men have unleashed national protests unlike any since the Vietnam war.

People are hunkering down at home, heeding the call to stop the spread of the virus. Meetings and outings are cancelled through the summer. Precious little hugging is going on.

All of this is having an effect on our efforts to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle. A proliferation of latex gloves and plastic masks are making their way into our waters. Due to the “temporary” relaxation of restrictions on single-use plastic, such bags and takeout food containers are cropping up in huge numbers. Online orders are way up, resulting in more non-recyclable plastic packaging. Low oil prices make it cheaper to manufacture new plastic than to use recycled.

I don’t mean to be depressing. People are still working toward a Zero Waste environment. There is some hope that corporations will embrace a circular economy as we begin to open up again. There is renewed appreciation for the great outdoors. And there are still things you can do to help. Here’s one I’ve adopted since our reusable bags have become unwelcome in grocery stores. Sure, you can bring them in and bag everything yourself. But I’ve found it easier to have them put your purchases back into the cart, wheel the cart to your car, and pack it there, using your trusty reusable bags.

Many of us who received a stimulus check were fortunate enough not to need it. I surveyed friends to see what they did with the extra funds. They kept the money in New Mexico by supporting overworked food banks, charities, tribal groups, medical organizations and local businesses.

National protests have raged across the country, and monuments are toppling. Here in Albuquerque we said farewell to Juan de Oñate amid cheers, boos and some violence. Other New Mexico monuments to the Civil War and Spanish colonization are being subjected to new scrutiny. Amid this belated reckoning, isn’t it time to rename Coronado Historic Site in honor of the people who were actually there? Kuaua Pueblo Historic Site has a nice ring to it.

Featured image from Pikist

Zero Waste during a pandemic