People Are Throwing Used Masks and Gloves On The Ground And It Needs to Stop

In times of crisis it is always wonderful to see how humanity pulls together to help each other. We’ve seen so many ways people are coming together to support their neighbors, front-line workers, and first responders during this coronavirus epidemic we’re all currently facing. Which is why it is especially horrific to see all of the thoughtlessly discarded gloves and masks that are being thrown on the ground, left in grocery carts, and otherwise littered about — gloves and masks that could have germs and traces the virus on them, being left for someone else to clean up.

Even if you think it’s fine to litter under normal circumstances (which it is NOT), it’s hard to imagine how you could think of spreading a biohazard in the same way. After all, used gloves and masks are likely covered in the coronavirus that we know can live on surfaces for many days. Wearing masks and gloves in public is meant to protect others from potentially infected individuals (especially those asymptomatic ones who may be carrying the virus and not know it). So what is the point of using these precautions at all if you then plan to abandon them the second you leave a store? And how lazy, entitled and selfish must you be to simply toss those things on the ground for someone else to clean up for you, risking their health in the process? Especially when most stores have garbage cans right outside where you can dispose of your used gloves and masks properly and safely.

Some communities are fighting pack with increased penalties for those caught littering. According to the Washington Post, police and health officials are actively monitoring store parking lots and ticketing people who drop used masks and gloves on the ground. For example, Yorktown, N.Y., doubled the fine for littering, warning that violators will now be charged $1,000 for a first offense. “It’s not like they’re throwing out candy wrappers,” Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater said in a statement. “They’re throwing out medical waste used rubber gloves and face masks that could potentially be contaminated with coronavirus.”

The people who are left to pick up this trash are grocery store employees, sanitation workers, and other essential workers currently putting their own health at risk to keep society functioning. They keep food on your table, supplies in your cabinets, and keep your home from being riddled with garbage and waste. You can at least dispose of your own used gloves and masks in return.

Help Prevent the Spread of the Coronavirus
Visit the Centers for Disease Control at CDC.gov or the World Health Organization at Who.int for the latest information on the coronavirus and learn what you can do to stop the spread.

More About Taking Responsibility: