6 Ways to Be a More Considerate Shopper During COVID-19
By Nancy Schimelpfening
- The CDC has made certain recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep us all safer.
- Being a considerate shopper means following these guidelines.
- It's also important to be aware of the needs of others so everyone is able to buy the food and supplies they need.
- Store employees and delivery personnel also deserve our consideration.
If you're the person who does the shopping in your home, you may have felt a great deal of frustration during the past several weeks.
Although we're being encouraged to follow certain measures to prevent the spread of the disease COVID-19, it seems that some of our fellow shoppers are not always following them.
Whether they're crowding in between us, bursting our carefully cultivated 6-foot bubbles of space, or leaving their discarded gloves in their carts for the next person to remove, these shoppers are rude and infuriating.
But for the rest of us who may not want to be "that person," here are six ways to be a more considerate shopper.
1. Wear a Face Mask or Other Covering
Wearing a face mask to prevent the transmission of the virus is one of the most basic things we can do to be considerate of our fellow shoppers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently recommending that all people wear cloth face coverings in public spaces where it's difficult to maintain social or physical distancing, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
They recommend wearing cloth masks rather than professional-grade equipment like surgical masks or N95 masks so that medical personnel, who are at the greatest day-to-day risk, have enough for their needs.
The CDC notes that the virus can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or even just speaking.
You can also be a carrier for the disease in the days and weeks before you start to show symptoms.
The CDC's website contains complete information about how to make and use a simple cloth face mask, including no-sew directions for those who don't sew.
2. Practice Physical Distancing
Some of the ways we can do this, according to the CDC, are:
- Stay out of crowded places. While this can be difficult with activities like shopping, some of the ways we can do this include shopping during less busy hours and shopping at smaller, local stores, which may be less busy than larger chain stores. We can also take advantage of online shopping and delivery services.
- Don't gather in groups. In the context of shopping, this can mean designating one person as the shopper and leaving everyone else at home. Keeping the number of people inside the store down makes it safer for everyone.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people. While this can be difficult in a setting like a store, Labus suggested it's important to "wait your turn, be deliberate about your actions, and keep your distance from others."
3. Don’t Hoard Food, Water, or Supplies
When we buy more than we need of essential items like food, water, medicine, and cleaning supplies, it creates shortages for other people — including older adults and those who may have an illness or disability — who may not be able to get out and shop as easily as we can.
In addition, it's simply not necessary.
Labus explained that stores will remain open during a pandemic, and there won't be an interruption in our food supply. It's not necessary to purchase more food than normal.
There's also no danger of a water shortage, he noted. A pandemic is different from other natural disasters, where utilities like water might go offline for a period of time.
"We have also seen people stocking up on toilet paper," he said. "While it makes sense to have some spare toilet paper, hoarding has made it difficult for people who need it to find it."
4. Avoid the WIC Label
On March 15, Suit Up Maine, a grassroots progressive group located in Maine, posted a tweet that quickly went viral reminding shoppers to avoid purchasing foods labeled "WIC."
According to Diane Rigassio Radler, director of the Institute for Nutrition Interventions at the Rutgers School of Health Professions, WIC refers to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
This program provides assistance for low-income women to purchase healthy, nutritious foods for themselves and their young children.
Often, these women are restricted to which brands or package sizes they're able to purchase under the program.
During periods of panic buying, when supplies become limited, shoppers may resort to buying whatever brands are still available.
Radler said the aim of the tweet was to educate shoppers to look for the WIC labels and buy other brands if possible so that people using this program are not left without needed items for their families.
5. Clean Your Cart for the Next Customer
According to a recent study, the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain active on plastic and stainless surfaces for up to 3 days.
In addition, it can remain viable from a few hours to a few days on a variety of other surfaces, according to the CDC.
With this in mind, it's a considerate move to make sure we leave our shopping carts clean for the next customer.
If you have access to disinfectant wipes, wipe down the handle of your cart as well as any other surfaces that people are likely to touch.
You can dispose of any used personal protective equipment, such as gloves or disposable face masks, in the trash. You can also place them in a baggie to dispose of at home.
6. Be Considerate of Store Employees
Store workers and delivery personnel are currently working overtime to make sure we have what we need.
In addition, they're putting themselves and their families at increased risk of contracting the virus.
It's important for us all to remember this and treat them with the respect they deserve.
Some of the things we can do to make things easier for them are:
- Buy only the essentials. While we're all going a bit stir-crazy at home, now is not the time to crowd into stores to relieve our boredom.
- Shop efficiently. Have a list of what you need. Get in and get out.
- Dispose of used gloves and masks properly. Think of these items as potentially being contaminated with the virus, and handle them accordingly.
- Be polite and courteous. Store employees and delivery drivers are working hard and doing their best. It is not their fault when shortages occur.
The Bottom Line
During a time like a pandemic, your actions can literally make a life-or-death difference to another person.
Following the safety measures laid out by the CDC and other government agencies is an important part of shopping etiquette during this time.
It's also important to consider the needs of other shoppers and make sure there's enough available for everyone by not purchasing more than you need and avoiding products marked with the WIC label.
Finally, treat store employees with the courtesy and respect they deserve. They're working hard and at great risk to themselves to make sure you have what you need.
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By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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