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Getting Back to Normal without Drowning in Plastic! 

Getting back to normal after Covid-19 is going to be hard.  We all know that. Recommendations for re-opening are starting to come in, even if they seem to change everyday. One thing we’re noticing is a new hyper focus on single-use disposable items.  Here at So Well Appointed, we have always had a serious commitment to sustainability, specifically reducing the amount of plastic we consume.  While many of the options for opening up seem to leave us drowning in a sea of plastic, if we get creative there are alternatives we can adopt to be both vigilant about limiting the spread of the virus and cutting back or eliminating plastic use.

Here are some ideas for major CDC guidelines.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces at the beginning and end of each shift. This is, of course, critical.  Disinfecting products have been scarce and hard to get.  You can mix your own, based on EPA guidelines, mix 1/3 cup of chlorine bleach (be careful not to accidentally purchase oxygen bleach instead, it’s a sneaky bleach alternative for laundry and it’s not a disinfectant) added to 1 gallon of water. You can also use 70% alcohol solutions. This allows you to reuse plastic or glass spray bottles instead of always buying new ones. (Spray mechanisms are not recyclable on store bought disinfectants!)

The DIY formula for hand sanitizer is 3 ounces ethyl alcohol (90%+/180+ proof) or 91%+ isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, 1 ounce pure aloe vera gel and ¼ teaspoon Vitamin E oil  to soften hands.  You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to make it smell nice.  These can be stocked in plastic or glass pump bottles throughout your rental and provided to your cleaning staff.  If you prefer to purchase hand sanitizer, look for new glass bottle options, such as Supernatural.  This product meets the CDC’s guidelines for the alcohol content and uses natural ingredients. Green bonus:  the company plants two trees for every bottle purchased.  Wondering why glass is better than plastic? Here’s a great recap!

Use cloth face coverings when social distancing is not possible, and especially in areas with high levels of cases. Let’s invest in washable, reusable cloth masks.  There are tons of DIY options available, or you can purchase masks from vendors who are giving back to their communities.  As an example, Everlane, a company that has always focused on sustainability and transparency,  is giving 10% of sales of masks to the ACLU.

Speaking of laundry, we are huge fans of the zero plastic waste and plant based Dropps laundry detergent.



Other sites have recommended closing down common areas in offices and moving to single serving snacks – we assume this will be the recommendations in rentals units as well.  Ugh. This is a recipe for plastic pile up.  But there are a few strategies for reducing waste.

Compostable Single Serving Coffee. Ditch the communal coffee pot and the plastic pods.  Our friends at Durham’s Counter Culture Coffee have created a single serve coffee option that is easy to use and delicious.  It works like a tea bag, but produces coffee similar to the taste from a French Press.  The outer packaging is compostable and the bags are biodegradable.

Gravity Fed Snack Dispensers. Here’s a solution that allows distribution of bulk food, without worrying about multiple hands digging into the snacks.  This one from Oxo allows minimal touching and is easy to clean. These are great for snack favorites like cereal/granola, crackers, or nuts.

Alter Eco Chocolates. It is surprisingly hard to find plastic-free packaging for single serving snacks.  There are companies with strong commitments to sustainability, who have not committed to packaging that is either compostable (gold standard) or recyclable (just good enough).  But, one company, Alter Eco Chocolate has developed a plant based, compostable wrapper.  Bonus, their truffles are delicious.  I love the salty caramel, but they have tons of other flavors.

Fresh Fruit.  Nature has its own single serving solution, fresh fruit.  “Peaches, bananas, and everything good”.  Here are FDA tips for washing fruit:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Rinse produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  • Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.

Speaking of paper towels, ya know, those are compostable! So if you and your guests are going through a lot more paper towels with the new cleaning protocols, you may want to consider an industrial composting service if it’s available in your town. Here in Durham we use CompostNow and are able to avoid putting all paper products in the trash/recycling because they compost them, not to mention all food scraps (including meats and dairy which usually can’t go in backyard compost bins)! And if you’re using a composting service, you can provide compostable single use products if your situation requires them.

What are tips for maintaining your sustainability sanity and staying safe?  Let us know.