Most of the beaches in San Diego County closed at the beginning of April, and instead of my walks at the coast, I have been venturing through my neighborhood to the quaint Main Street area of town. Every time I go out, I see gloves and masks that have been abandoned in parking lots, tossed on sidewalks, or jettisoned in gutters—and I am not alone. People across the country and around the world are witnessing the same thing, and it is completely unnecessary.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend gloves for the general public, citing that they give people a false sense of security and “failing to change them often is the same thing as failing to wash your hands.” People who wear latex gloves make the mistake of leaving them on for extended periods of time and end up touching lots of things, which can spread the virus. Sadly, underpaid sanitation workers, grocery store employees, and gas station attendants are most likely the ones who will have to pick up these potential biohazards.
In addition, littered masks and gloves that go unnoticed can become environmental hazards. In fact, I often found gloves at the beach prior to the coronavirus crisis, and I am quite sure that it won’t be too long before even more start washing up. Out of respect for our essential workers, and for the sake of the natural environment, single-use masks and gloves must be discarded appropriately. Ultimately, we can all help keep the unsung heroes in our communities out of harm’s way, while also protecting our oceans and sea life.