Fabric masks to travel cutlery: 4 ways to be more eco-friendly during the pandemic

There are some small lifestyle changes you can make to be kinder to the planet, while still sticking to essential safety measures

Using reusable cups, cloth face masks and reusable bags are simple ways to stay eco-friendly during the pandemic. Unsplash
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These days, it's impossible to head outside without wearing some type of personal protective equipment.

Wearing face masks is mandatory when leaving the house in the UAE, while gloves are required to be worn in many supermarkets around the country. Plenty of cafes and restaurants, meanwhile, are serving food on plastic plates with plastic cutlery.

While these measures are a must in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and have been adopted in many nations around the world, they have resulted in an increased use of plastic gloves and single-use face masks.

But, while life continues under this "new normal", there are still ways in which you can limit your use of plastic with sustainable solutions.

Here are four to try.

Buy a reusable face mask and gloves

As face masks have become a new part of daily life, it's worth investing in a washable one that can be worn time and time again, rather than one that gets thrown away at the end of the day.

There are various reusable ones on the market (of varying prices) and you can even create your own at home from a sock.

Some grocery stores in the UAE also require shoppers to wear gloves, so instead of taking the plastic or latex ones offered, carry your own pair that you can just wash and reuse again.

Options include gardening, cleaning or cotton gloves.

Carry your own cutlery set

Restaurants in the UAE have started to reopen with safety measures in place, which include social distancing and contactless dining. However, many are also using disposable plates as well as plastic forks, spoons and knives for guests who dine-in.

While it's not feasible to lug around your own crockery, you can easily carry a reusable cutlery set in your bag, especially if you know that you're going to eat out.

You can find reusable travel sets online at amazon.ae, or in stores such as Daiso.

Bring your own bags for groceries

Even prior to the pandemic, reusable bags have always been a way to help cut down on plastic. Some shops will offer a small discount or even have special check-out lines for those who bring their own bags. Another option is to opt for recyclable paper bags if they're available.

Just be sure to pack your bags yourself, to limit contact with anyone else, and wash fabric bags after each use.

Take a cup from home

Another way to cut down on plastic is by bringing your own cup when you visit your local coffee shop.

While some places are currently cracking down on using them, there are others, such as % Arabica, that will still refill your morning coffee in your own mug.

It's worth asking in advance if it means avoiding a single-use cup.