With reusable containers giving way to single-use plastics during the pandemic, consumers are receiving expert reassurance that it doesn't need to be that way. More than 100 scientists from 18 nations issued a statement saying that reusable containers do not increase the risk of transmitting the coronavirus, the Guardian reports. As long as basic hygiene is followed, reusable bags, cups, and other containers—such as grocery bags—should be fine, they said, adding that the coronavirus spreads mainly through inhaling droplets in the air, not by touching surfaces. Scientists do advise thoroughly washing reusable containers with soap and hot water. The group issuing the statement included epidemiologists, virologists, biologists, chemists, and doctors, per EcoWatch.
The need for protective gear has brought a rise in the use of plastics, and scientists warned of the potential harm if efforts to promote reusables lose ground. "We should make every attempt to avoid overconsumption of single-use plastics," said a chemistry professor at Oxford, "particularly in applications like packaging." A Greenpeace UK activist welcomed the scientists' statement, saying that reusables can "cut down on throwaway plastic and protect our wildlife, seas and rivers." Once the pandemic is over, the professor said, she hopes everyone is "more determined than ever to solve the pernicious problems associated with plastics in the environment." (Read more plastic stories.)