We must litter less

With the rise of the global Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, our world went into lockdown, and with that came mask mandates. All public places were required by law to enforce mask mandates, which caused the production and distribution of masks to increase. This, resulted in more waste that is tossed carelessly around our streets. This carelessness and wastefulness is contributing to the pollution of our planet, which is harmful to our environment and everything in it.

As our world was already in a poor state in terms of pollution, the added pollution caused by wastefulness of masks is hurting us even more.

There are people that do not believe that humans are contributing to the rising issue of global climate change, in regards to our polluting actions. They say that changes in our climate is a result of natural changes in the sun’s activity, that global temperature fluctuations are natural and normal and have in fact happened before throughout the history of our planet. I believe, though, that humans are a cause of climate change, and we need to do something about it.

We are careless in our behaviors towards our trash and our wasteful habits. Everyone in the world should take these matters seriously, and change the way they live their life to a more sustainable one. This is important for the health and environment of humans, animal and plant life, and future generations.

There is clear evidence that humans are contributing to the warming of our planet. The polluting behaviors that humans do everyday, like littering, consuming too much, keeping the lights on, and using transportations all contribute to global warming.

Furthermore, according to the UN, the greatest contributors to the increase in CO2 emissions are human-induced: the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, generating power, manufacturing goods, and producing livestock. All of these everyday human actions continue to fuel the global crisis of climate change.

Some argue that human activity is not the primary cause of global warming, that it is rather the fluctuations in the sun’s heat, called solar forcing, that is responsible. According to a study published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 50-70% of warming throughout the 1900s could be associated with an increased amount of solar activity, and this is not any different from the variation in global temperatures that we are experiencing in the 21st century.

As littering is one of the human behaviors that contributes to the pollution of our planet, as the Covid pandemic erupted, littering behavior became more familiar to more people. According to Design Conscious, For A Cleaner Tomorrow, ̈Covid waste, including masks, gloves & other PPE, discarded improperly into our environment becomes more prevalent. Estimates say globally we are using 129 billion disposable masks & 65 billion plastic gloves every month. ̈ As more and more people are wearing masks, naturally many masks have been tossed carelessly on the ground contributing to dangerous littering habits that harm our planet.

According to Texas Disposal, litter causes pollution and can pollute the air, so humans not disposing of their masks and other trash properly is hurting our environment.

I myself have seen the increase in trash around Hinsdale, and pretty much every town I have visited since the beginning of the pandemic. It is normal now to see masks in the parking lot, on the sidewalk, and even in parks. The increase in waste is evident not only with the statistics, but even just by walking through the streets one would be able to tell that there has been an increase in waste after the pandemic. This increase in waste is polluting behavior, and is contributing to the climate change that we are experiencing.

The solution to this matter lies within our hands. While we cannot reverse the effects that we have inflicted upon our environment, there are specific measures that we can take to halt further damage done to the environment. To combat the effects of pollution specifically in regards to masks, the simple solution is to throw away your disposable mask when you are done with it in its proper place: the garbage.

National Geographic suggests that an even better solution is to purchase sustainable face masks, like cloth masks, that are washable and reusable to reduce the amount of waste and garbage that goes into our landfills. The UN has declared that climate change is a state of global emergency, and if we can do even little things such as choosing more sustainable alternatives, we can do our part in addressing the problem.

People everywhere have been and will continue to feel the effects of climate change, so we should address it now and do our best to support our home.