A new type of pollution is spreading around the Globe and it will cost us a lot on the long term.
It’s been more than five months since the Coronavirus has spread in the entire world and turned it upside down. I think that nobody knew that it will hit us so hard, even if there were rumors about it, but we treated this pandemic like something normal and easy, which will not affect us on the long term.
Maybe we all thought that the outbreak and people being in quarantine will be a huge step into the future and the pollution will register a massive decrease, but it seems that it has been replaced with another type of pollution…. face masks and plastic gloves. Since everybody has to protect from not contacting the virus, we have to wear face masks, even plastic gloves to protect ourselves and others, but nobody thinks that this equipment that we used every day to defend from Covid-19 is starting to create a new type of pollution on the entire Globe.
Millions of masks and plastic gloves are used every day by millions of people, this means that the ones that were used are thrown away, into the garbage, on the ground, into the ocean, in nature. Plastic is the most dangerous component and the number 1 pollutant of all times. We see it everywhere, we use it every day and now, with this pandemic, the amount of plastic has grown alarmingly. The masks that we used every day are made of polypropylene, a type of plastic that is not going to disintegrate quickly. So, what can we do to protect our Planet?
According to Plastic Waste Innovation Hub if a single person uses a face mask a day for one year, the amount of waste will be 66.000 tonnes higher of contaminated plastic and ten times more climate change impact. This are numbers that we have to consider, even on a small scale by every individual. Some countries are trying to develop strategies to fight this waste of plastic, but due to Coronavirus regulations that wearing a mask in public spaces is mandatory and this is going to be for long period. Also, the situation was uncertain, due to social distancing, lockdown and a low number of employees, because the activity of recycling station was almost stopped. But, in the last few weeks, the things began to accelerate, and we hope for future results.
I believe that the problem has to be everyone’s hands, not only to the governments, also to regular people. We fought climate change until now, when the pandemic reached us, we stopped. But now, when things are better we should consider that this will affect us as humans and our Planet.
Well, I am not saying that we should all start wearing a reusable mask, because this is not going to happen. Everybody is free to do what they consider is the best, but let stop a second and think about our future. At some point, there were some rumors that plastic mask should be worn only by workers to decrease the amount of plastic use. Cotton masks are a good alternative for people who want to be part of this story and not use disposable plastic every day. Scientists suggest that layered masks made of cotton, chiffon, and silk have a filtration percentage of up to 90%.
Analyzing this world situation, it seems that we are still trapped in hands of pandemic and the results will be seen in a few years. As inhabitants of the Earth, we have to protect it, find better ways to save it, and improve our behavior to become better us. The power is in our hands.