The Environmental Toll of COVID-19


Alayna Reddick

The spread of COVID-19 has had an unexpected environmental toll that can be prevented with proper practices.

Alayna Reddick, Editor

Temporary reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions have caused a feeling of happiness globally even with the spread of COVID-19. However, these reductions are only temporary.

Due to the closure of non-essential services in many countries globally, industry and the emissions it releases have been cut greatly. This is of course due to COVID-19 which has caused a global health crisis and while the reduction in emissions may seem like a silver lining, COVID-19 has also created its own negative environmental impact. 

The public is currently trying to protect itself in any way possible; wearing masks, using gloves, sanitizing, and cleaning have become parts of everyday life. What if I told you that all of these methods of protection also had a negative environmental impact if not handled correctly?

Wearing a mask has been recommended by the CDC as a way to protect yourself when in social areas, like grocery stores. This has meant more and more people are turning to the use of single use or masks that have to be replaced often. When thrown away, these masks eventually end up in landfills. A great option for the general public are washable fabric masks if you can get your hands on one. They can be reused and washed until it is no longer necessary to wear a mask.

Gloves have also become a popular method of protection for the general public. While cross contamination, or the movement of germs and bacteria from one surface to another, is a large issue many people incorrectly dispose of gloves. If you have been to the store in the past couple of weeks you have probably noticed that the parking lot is littered with used plastic gloves. These plastic gloves can be eaten and harmful to animals or pollute waterways in the long run.

As people begin to clean their homes in hope of killing any unwanted bacteria, many people are using disposable disinfectant wipes. These wipes are one use and should be disposed of in the trash can. However, many people have turned to flushing them down the toilet, which is causing pipe blockages and ruptures. 

While it is extremely important to ensure your safety during the current health crisis, just remember that once it is all said and done we only get one Earth and a little extra hassle could protect it.