Do you remember the days before COVID-19? You know, when the Karens of the world had little more to worry about than saving our planet. Remember how they would drone on and on about the need to extinguish the use of fossil fuels, get rid of cars and airplanes, and eliminate farting cows?
But now, in light of the novel coronavirus, that’s all changed. Our planet has been once again put on the back burner or completely forgotten, and in its place has come the over sterilization of our persons. In many states and industries, we are now required to wear personal protective equipment or PPE, such as face masks and gloves.
And where do you think all those things go when we are finished with them?
Well, as several conservation groups and organizations are finding out, the oceans are becoming littered with them.
In fact, as one French nonprofit reports, there may soon be “more masks than jellyfish” in our oceans.
Opération Mer Propre or Opération Clean Sea, when translated into English, says the disposable gear is becoming a continued problem and threat to our planet. And it is only growing as more and more of them are used.
According to CNN, who spoke with the group, so far PPE like disposable masks and gloves only make up about 5 percent of all the waste they have collected within recent weeks. And while that number seems small, compared to what it was a mere couple months ago, it represents a significant problem.
Opération Mer Propre spokeswoman Julie Hellec told CNN that this is the first time in 15 years she has ever found PPE on her cleanup dives with the group. And she insists that the sooner we fix the problem, the better.
“If someone had alerted us to the problem of plastic bottles and plastic bags from the start, would we have continued?” she asks, inciting that if we make this known early, while the problem is just being noticed, maybe it can be stopped.
And Opération Mer Propre isn’t the only group taking notice of this growing concern.
In Hong Kong, thousands of miles away from the Mediterranean Sea, where Opération Mer Propre has been operating, the shores and coastlines look very similar, with masks and gloves littering the beaches.
Here the conservation group OceansAsia noted, “During a recent survey trip to the Soko’s Islands the OceansAsia team finds masses of surgical masks washing up on the shoreline.”
Its website said in a post, “One item that was very noticeable as a new addition to the myriad of marine debris is surgical masks. Over time the team has seen the odd mask here and now, however, this time they were all along the high tide line and foreshore with new arrivals coming in on the current.”
They added, “Due to the current COVID-19 coronavirus, the general population have all taken the precaution to wear surgical masks. When you suddenly have a population of 7 million people wearing one to two masks per day the amount of trash generated is going to be substantial.”
It is noted that this was written by the group back in February.
CNN noted at the time that “the production of single-use PPE has drastically ramped up during the pandemic. A recent study in the Environment, Science & Technology journal estimates that 129 billion face masks and 165 billion gloves are being used each month.”
And according to the outlet, “Nick Mallos, a senior director with the nonprofit organization Ocean Conservancy, called these numbers’ staggering.”
And indeed, they are.
Let’s just say that is a lot of material that could easily get lost on its way to the trash.
As Joffrey Peltier of Opération Mer Propre says, “It’s the promise of pollution to come if nothing is done.”
Another member of the group, Laurent Lombard, asks, “How would you like swimming with COVID-19 this summer?”
It’s an excellent question to be sure. No one wants to be swimming, diving, or doing anything in our world’s waters and suddenly be surrounded by garbage and particularly not use, possibly infected COVID PPE.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should immediately all be switching to wearing the cloth or fabric alternatives, as science shows that those options may be far worse for our health. However, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything about it.
For starters, let’s try actually throwing away our trash. If we don’t want to see the radical environmentalist Karens come back out in force, we have to take responsibility for our actions and our garbage.