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Stay Home, Everything Will Be Fine

Mask Pollution – Photo: Naomi Brannan

There seems to be no better combination for two of the most widely used phrases of these days than that of stringing them together, one after the other, so as to underline the inconsistency and allarming unconsciousness with which many people have been acting in recent months of pandemic.

On the one hand, they hymn the sense of responsibility, blaming those who do not diligently adapt to “the rules!”. On the other, gloves and masks are diligently slipped to the ground after use, as if that had nothing to do with rules and respect for others. As if volounteers and sweepers committed to pick up their garbage were not so “heroes” in the end, or they were just a kind of second-rate heroes, compared to nurses, who don’t deserve too much consideration.

A fish suffocated after it became trapped inside the finger of a plastic glove in Tossa de Mar, on Spain’s Costa Brava – Photo: Roger Millan
Gary Stokes, co-founder of OceansAsia, holds up the masks he found strewn across beaches near Hong Kong in February 2020

Gary Stokes of marine conservation organization OceansAsia said he picked up 70 masks on a 100-meter stretch of one beach, only to find 30 more a week later. Demand for medical supplies has surged in many parts of the world recently, and thousands of companies jumped into mask production, producing millions of masks a day. Experts said that Covid-19 waste such as masks and latex gloves carelessly discarded in streets can end up in the sea.

Where lies the responsibility for what is happening? Perhaps, and once again, in the governments that for some reason considered more urgent to raise awareness of the risks of contagion, rather than those of pollution. Or perhaps in an actual natural perceptual regression of the human being, increasingly inclined to obedience than to reasoning and to awareness of the reality that surrounds it? The mystery remains and takes on even more disturbing traits.

A Beijing industrial building converted into a mask factory in six days by the China Construction First Group, with the aim of producing 250,000 masks per day – Photo: Keystone
After the Grocery Store (Italy)
Discarded gloves and masks on the streets of Preston, UK, in just one day – Photo: Sonia Bashir
They’re Back (Return to Normal) – Carlos Rubin

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