With everything happening in the world, from the pandemic to the presidential debates, it can easily make us forget some obvious problems, one of which is waste. Since the breakout of COVID-19, hundreds of thousands of families have chosen to be in the safety of their own homes. But this also means that they need things such as goods and everyday necessities.

The only way to do so is by ordering online or going out in person with a mask. This is the pedestal of the problem that has led to thousands of online packaging and thousands of single-use masks thrown on the ground, not recycled, or thrown into the ocean. In fact, according to estimates, we are using 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves every single month. Now, if this does not scare you, if one of these things is ingested by a whale, it could easily kill it. On top of that, the daily output of waste reached a shocking 240 metric tons. 

Now don’t get me wrong; wearing a mask is vital in the prevention of transmission of COVID, but the problem lies with the fact that people are not recycling probably. This pandemic sprang out of nowhere, and many people were taken aback by it. Citizens required PPE, but companies could not create sufficient amounts of reusable PPE. So it turned to making thousands of thousands of single-use PPE in order to supply the demand.

Since single-use masks can only be used once, thousands of people throw them in the garbage or don’t recycle them properly, creating thousands upon thousands of trash that adds to our-landfill, or gets dumped in the ocean. In fact, in France alone, they have ordered 2 billion disposable masks and in the world, the amount of masks in the ocean is greater than the amount of jellyfish!

In fact, because of the rise of COVID-19, more than 1 billion animals are estimated to have died at the end of the year. According to usi.edu “About one-third of an average dump is made up of packaging material!” Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted. What’s even scarier, however, is that if not managed properly, the PPE could lead to public health risk because their toxin then gets released into our environment. 

With all this waste, someone must be in charge of it, and someone must be held accountable. Sadly, no, because governments have been too focused on attacking the virus head-on, they have let the impacts of the pandemic slip out of their minds and have not implemented any sort of regulations on recycling PPE. Now it is up to us, the citizens, to do our part or give support to NGOs and the UN to combat waste management. Together we can make the world a more sustainable place for everyone.

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