Stop Littering Your Masks and Gloves, Let Mother Nature Heal

By Rita Thompson



As the novel coronavirus continues to affect global life, many are labeling the pandemic as mother nature’s revenge.

For us, it’s time to stay at home. But, for the earth, it’s an opportunity to heal. 

As we attempt to protect ourselves and our fellow earthlings from illness, we must also remember to protect our planet. Amid the opposing opinions about personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and masks, another very important issue has arisen. 

Trash Filled Streets

People are taking to social media to expose those who’re littering streets and parking lots with used PPEs. 

This is problematic in more ways than one. Not only is this blatant littering extremely traumatic to our earth, it exposes others to the used products, and potentially, the virus. Someone has to pick-up every glove that’s tossed on the ground, which directly puts them at risk. 

These lightweight products are easily carried by the wind, causing them to quickly spread throughout the streets and even waterways. 

In Miami, environmentalists like Mike Gibaldi are worried about where this litter will end up. 

“Almost anywhere somebody could be in Miami—could be out in the farthest reaches—there are storm drains,” Gibaldi said to Miami New Times. “They feed into small canals and bigger canals and to the Miami River, which goes to Biscayne Bay, which goes to the ocean. I don’t think people think about how litter gets downstream.”

When that litter does make it into bodies of water, it’s left to wildlife to differentiate between trash and food—a nearly impossible task. DD


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Heightened Fines

To combat these issues, many areas are issuing more severe tickets for the littering of PPE products. In East Brunswick, New Jersey, for example, police will begin issuing tickets to those who throw their used gloves and masks on the ground. Starting Wednesday, April 8th, fines will start at $50 but can go as high as $2,000. 

“We’ve noticed a high volume of people discarding their gloves and their N95 masks on the ground,” Frank Sutter, lieutenant in East Brunswick, told News 12. “The people who are actually picking them up can get exposed to the virus, as well.”

Boston’s Public Works department also recently released a tweet pleading with citizens to stop littering their PPEs.  

Frontline Workers

It may be hard to tell from litter-ridden streets, but healthcare providers are facing a major shortage of these products. 

The lack of proper protective gear is severely diminishing these workers’ ability to fight COVID-19. Not to mention, they’re putting their own lives at risk without ample access to PPEs. Thus, if you happen to be in possession of extra PPEs, consider donating them to those on the frontline of this battle against COVID-19. The least we can do is help support those who are risking their lives each and every day.  

Proper Disposal

If you are unsure how to properly dispose of these products, here is a quick rundown from INTERPOL on the best way to do so. 

So, in the midst of all this chaos, take a moment and ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to lessen the blow of COVID19.

It’s time to stand up and protect the woman who brings us everything we need to survive. Mother nature gives food, water, medicine, shelter, not to mention… cannabis. Is this really our thank you note? 

Emerald contributor since June 2019


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