Lifestyle & Culture

Consuming Mindfully in the time of Covid-19

Single-use waste has increased majorly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lucy Egan looks at three easy ways we can create eco-friendly habits in lockdown.

The time we are living in now puts many demands on us and the lifestyles we lead. In the course of eighteen months, we have adjusted the way we live our lives and the products we consume to protect ourselves and others. With a shift towards single-use items and disposables, how do we consume mindfully and ensure our impact isn’t too great on the Earth? Living in this era of high anxiety towards our health and the health of our planet; taking action can help to lessen feelings of helplessness.

In this article, we’ll take a look at three habits we can get into in this tricky time to be more environmentally conscious:


Seahorse caught on a mask in Santorini, Greece.

Seahorse caught on a mask in Santorini, Greece. Image by Nicholas Samaras.

As masks have become commonplace, it is important to be mindful of how you use and dispose of masks. Disposable masks pose a serious threat to the environment if not discarded in a responsible manner and can be washed in waterways, breaking into micro-plastic and affecting wildlife, especially if they ingest the materials instead of food.

It is important to always cut or tear the ear loops off the mask and dispose of them separately as animals can become caught and tangled, causing injury. Disposable masks should always be discarded in a bin as an accumulation of masks can cause pollution and “smother environments” according to The Conversation.


If you’ve fallen victim to a bit of lockdown shopping you may have parcels flooding in every other day. One thing you can do to help reduce your impact is held onto the packaging and reuse it the next time you have to post something. In my experience, the most important thing is making sure you label it clearly, remove any previous labels which may cause confusion, and seal it off with something strong such a duct tape.

Soft Plastic

Soft plastics are generally not accepted by council recycling bins. REDcycle is a program that allows consumers to dispose of their soft plastic waste responsibly, at supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths. According to the website, these items are classed as soft plastic:

  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Bread, rice, pasta, lolly, and cereal bags
  • Biscuit packs (but not the trays)
  • Frozen food bags
  • Bubble wrap
  • Fruit and veg bags and netting
  • Toilet paper packaging and similar product packaging
  • Old green bags (and other re-usable bags)

Find out where REDcycle points are here!


You are the person who knows your life best so you are best positioned to identify what areas you could improve on. By creating these habits in lockdown, it ensures that you are ready to continue making a difference when things reopen. This website can give you a good insight into the ways in which you can change habits for the better.

Check out social enterprise company Terra Cycle for inspiration about what can be recycled; they provide units for the safe disposal of a number of items from PPE, beauty and oral care, household waste and many other common waste items. Some units cost money so maybe you could lobby your workplace into investing or check out some of the partnered options, where you can package it up and send it off with a pre-prepared label!

Happy recycling!

Feature Image: Eva Davies, Yak Media Designer


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