2020 has been challenging, to say the least. Remember back in March when we were all baking bread and finding fun, unique ways to entertain ourselves? Now we're just apparently filling the oceans with our covid-19 mask trash, because, well, of course we are. We're going through 129 BILLION face masks & 65 billion pairs of gloves per month. And where does most of that plastic trash end up? You guessed it, the ocean, where it will live for millions of years and slowly break down into microplastic particles small enough to poison every living thing in the sea. It's a HUGE problem that is only getting worse by the day.
What can be done about covid trash? Well, for starters, we should all be putting our used masks, gloves, and wipes other disposable covid plastic in the trash. It sounds simple, but a lot of people are apparently having a real problem with doing just that. Other solutions are more complex. We could stop making single use plastic masks, because we know single use plastics are horrendous for the environment. Remember pre-Covid when we all were agreeing to stop using plastic straws? Now we're wrapping ourselves in single use plastics just to go outside.
Instead, we could switch to reusable materials or convert to earth-friendly materials that biodegrade. Both would be better solutions than what we're doing now, which is filling the oceans with plastic covid trash, literally suffocating the planet in our blind panic to quench the pandemic.
Rather than taking this opportunity, this unique moment in the modern global industrial society to take stock and maybe reconsider the way we mass produce plastics, we're instead doubling down on plastic, betting everything we have on disposable, single-use trash. Instead of taking this time when global travel is as low as it has ever been in modern history to cleanse the Earth, we're just making systemic environmental problems that much worse, stressing already fragile ecosystems to the breaking point. So if you're near an ocean, go check and see if anyone is doing a beach cleanup in your area and if not, start one yourself. If you're a diver, think about doing one of the PADI Project Aware Dive Against Debris, they're a really great way to engage with the aquatic community and do a different kind of dive. I always try to remove some trash from the ocean every time I dive, but dive against debris dives are different, the focus is one hundred percent on trash removal, the site is usually not the best, there's usually a lot of surge, but it's amazing to come up with a sack (or two) full of plastic trash.
Also think about voting with your wallet, it's maybe the most important thing we can d, choosing products that are biodegradable, especially when it comes to Covid. At the rates we're producing these masks, gloves, hand wipes, etc. we're going to have an epidemic of trash, so we all need to start at least trying to force some companies to make the right, environmentally sustainable production choices moving forward. And we need to make sure our voices are heard by politicians so they will be shamed into acting for the good of all to protect the planet above the momentary needs of expediency. It's not going to be easy, but the alternative is unthinkable: a dead ocean full of nothing but hazardous human waste.