By Mario Micallef ’22
Remember when the biggest concern for us first-world problem living folk was a paper straw with your coffee? As quick as the exponential rate of the virus exploded into the centerfold of our lives, society said goodbye to going green and hello to depravity. The exact definition of depravity is: moral corruption, or wickedness. Sweet, so I just called society wicked, I must have some damning evidence against them. Nope. All I have got is another nagging condemnation, buckle up.
Now, I can’t be the only one who has heard these phrases uttered a billion times in the past couple of months: ‘pass me the gloves,’ ‘have you seen the Clorox wipes?’ or ‘take your mask Mario, and stop bugging me.’ Single-use gloves are a must nowadays, you can never be too careful. Multiple masks are good too because maybe the virus knows if you have already worn one once. And you have to disinfect anything and everything all of the time. Hell, I have gone through 15 of those wipes in the span of writing this article.
Of course this may be a slight exaggeration. However, I am sure that you can imagine someone just how I described. They are doing what they can to help themselves; it is totally understandable, but is it?
Hey listen, I get it, our hands are tied. There might not be many options besides throwing away millions of plastic gloves and wipes. The world is in panic mode and right now the world is the last thing on our minds. Those that inhabit it want to make it out alive after this whole pandemic nonsense blows over. Keep in mind though, making it out alive was the goal in being environmentally conscious in the first place. Everyone’s cards are exposed, it is time to reflect. Those that are truly morally good will prevail. Those that talked a big game and are now to blame will be unmasked.
For those environmentally driven people that continue to live out their moral commitments towards the earth during these trying times, hat’s off to you my friend. There lies no hypocrisy with what you ‘perfect eggs’ do since there are indeed ways to still be environmentally conscious in times like this.
Think back to those cold paper straw, reusable container days only a couple months ago. If we were to tell green minded folk that thousands of plastic necessities are going to be thrown away, they might have come at you with a reusable pitchfork. The problem with their anger then, is how quickly it is to dissipate when their lives are put at risk now. Those that wanted to save the planet by using drastic measures of reusable items have surely kissed them goodbye, and really, I do not blame them. The virus has shown what someone is like when the going gets tough. Does someone stick with what they have conveyed as their moral beliefs? Or, do they falter and their facade is broken by the plastic mask they don.
Was this dichotomy of a global halt with planet saving tactics foreseeable? Maybe it was but maybe not. One might ask: why, and how? The answer is the creed that we all live by, even those that claim to put the planet’s health before everything: every man for themselves.
Am I saying this because I am some stringent Prius driver, tree hugger, environmental advocate? Nope. However, I think the hypocrisy of those folk who yell at me for not recycling every cup or not using a compost is quite irritating when they have turned to wield single-use products. Buying toilet paper, toting one-use medical objects (gloves, & masks), and especially using/throwing away hundreds of those disinfecting wipes is the impact of a deadly virus. I understand these products may be deemed as a necessity now but let us not forget that they were once a part of the problem.
These products help flatten the curve of the virus, and that is good. Nevertheless, these products are all essentially plastic and are not biodegradable. They are being used like we have never seen before and are in extremely high demand, which is rightfully so. The products serve as a comfort blanket for us who are scared of the virus.
I make no claim that we should stop using these products that may be harmful to the environment because I know that when human life is at risk it becomes the top priority. Yet, what we should do is take a step back and consider where our other hypocrisies lie. Where are our hands going to be tied in the future? How will we act then?