I can’t stand litter of any kind. Back in the pre-coronavirus days, I would regularly pick up the litter found around the perimeter of Schiller Park and fume inwardly at the jerks who deposited the litter in the first place. Of course, the emergence of a global pandemic with multiple pathways for transmission made the litter pick-up approach especially ill-advised, so I stopped.
But now a new, and in my view especially gross, form of litter has emerged: coronavirus masks. It seems like you see them everywhere, and I find myself wondering why. Are people wearing masks for a time, then casually tossing them by the side of the road because they used them for one wearing and feel like disposing of them properly is risky? Or are masks just another form of debris, like soda cans or fast-food wrappers, to the litter-bugs among us? It certainly doesn’t seem like the number of masks you see could be the product of, say, masks inadvertently falling out of someone’s pocket.
I applaud the use of masks as a sound public health measure, and I am happy to see that more and more people are accepting masks as part of reality of life during a grinding pandemic and wearing them in appropriate settings. But mask responsibility has to extend beyond simply wearing the mask to include proper disposal, too. It’s disgusting to see mask litter, and the people who are doing that littering aren’t holding up their end of the societal bargain. Somebody else is going to have to go around and pick up those dirty masks that have been in touch with some unknown person’s mouth and nose. It’s not only gross, incredibly jerky behavior, it makes any kind of contract tracing impossible.
So to the mask litterers out there, I say thanks for wearing a mask, but please — keep track of it and discard it properly, will you?