By Victoria McNally // SWNS
Almost seven in ten Americans are buying more single-use items than they did last year in order to minimize the possible risk of COVID-19 exposure, according to new research.
According to a recent survey of 2,000 people, 97% have access to refillable or reusable products — but pandemic panic has 67% of them turning to single-use plastic instead.
Overall, more than a third say (32%) that COVID-19 has had a major impact on their overall environmental practices, and a fifth (21%) say that their habits have “completely changed.”
For example, 38% are consuming more plastic water bottles than they did this time last year, even though 50% say they currently own a refillable one.
Out of the 90% whose sustainability efforts have been affected, half (50%) of respondents feel that it’s ultimately been a negative impact.
Commissioned by Hydro Flask on behalf of OnePoll, the survey also found that 40% report being more ecologically-minded now than they were in 2020.
Generally, 75% are “deeply, actively concerned” about the current state of the environment, citing climate change (57%), pollution (46%), and deforestation (44%) as their top concerns.
Seventy-one percent also believe it might be possible to reverse or minimize the effects of climate change, so long as everyone pitches in to do the bare minimum.
In the meantime, 46% of consumers have begun to reach for products sold in more sustainable packaging, like dry goods that come in biodegradable cardboard rather than plastic bags.
Some are even curious about completely container-free alternatives — a solid bar of soap instead of body wash, for example (42%) — although the majority prefer refillable liquid products to solid or water-activated ones (60%).
Almost half (49%) of all respondents say that they consider the reusability of a product before they purchase it, and 38% think about whether or not it’s biodegradable.
“The findings of this survey are important as they show that we still have a long way to go to cut loose single-use bottles and containers from our daily lives,” said Phyllis Grove, VP Marketing & e-Commerce at Hydro Flask. “Replacing plastic with reusable water bottles is one of the easiest swaps we can make to significantly reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. Studies show that if just one person makes the switch, approximately 217 plastic water bottles will be saved from going to a landfill that year – which is why we’re encouraging people everywhere to choose reusable alternatives and ‘Refill for Good.’"
So far, it seems like the most successful sustainability efforts can be found at the grocery store: 29% of survey-takers report using fewer plastic grocery bags, and 25% are using fewer produce bags.
Similarly, four in 10 (41%) have their own reusable produce bags in their home, and a third (36%) have reusable shopping bags.
And while sanitation and cleanliness is still a concern among 40% of those who own reusable items, surprisingly it’s not the top concern. Rather, more respondents (44%) are actually worried about the amount of space that reusable items take up in their home.
“We’re thrilled to see that reusable water bottles are the most popular sustainable product cited in this poll,” Grove added. “For many of us, a reusable bottle has become one of the daily essentials we grab on our way out the door along with our phone, keys and wallet. We know that hydration is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and by choosing a sustainable alternative to plastics, we are refilling not only for the good of our bodies and mind but also for the good of the planet.”
BIGGEST DECREASES IN REPLACEABLE ITEM USE
- Plastic grocery bags - 29%
- Produce bags - 25%
- Water filtration canisters - 23%
- Sandwich bags - 23%
- Plastic utensils - 22%
TOP 5 MOST POPULAR REUSABLE ITEMS
- Water bottles - 50%
- Drinking straws - 43%
- Produce bags - 41%
- Insulated bottles/flasks (e.g. thermoses) - 40%
- Food storage containers (e.g. Tupperware) - 39%