COVID-19 vs. the Environment


Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Ellah Krichman and Emma Mor

With all the big and pressing issues going on in our world today, climate change and littering may seem like the least of our problems. However, after reading about all the terrible effects they have on our planet and environment, you will definitely think twice. Global warming harms us not only globally, but on a local level as well. The things we do in our daily lives, no matter how small, have the ability to affect Earth’s well being. Driving to school instead of walking, forgetting to recycle your papers, or leaving the water running can all affect our future, and COVID-19 is no aid to this. 

On a more global scale, mask littering is quite a serious problem though it can easily be prevented. Oftentimes, people find themselves at a park or beach, and have nowhere to put their masks. As a quick and easy solution, they throw their mask on the ground or on top of their bag. Moments later, the wind blows their mask away, and it ends up in a fish’s mouth in a lake or ocean. 

Oceans Asia is an organization that investigates and researches wildlife crimes mainly located in Asia. Mr. Stokes, founder of OceansAsia, collected 70 masks as he walked 100 yards of beach in Hong Kong in a study. He had conducted this study to see whether or not personal protective equipment (PPE) that people wear would affect the amount of trash in our ocean and on our shores. 

What we do with our masks matter, and we must be more careful if we want our animals and planet to stay healthy. Of course, masks are meant to be worn and thrown out, but there is a correct and safe way to do this. The simplest way to avoid littering is to throw away your mask in the correct trash, and make sure you cut the straps before. This way, birds and other animals do not get their wings or legs tangled in the straps and the mask does not pollute water.
Cresskill is just one of the many towns that is doing a hybrid option for school, which simply means that the students who decide to go to school alternate days between going in-person and attending class virtually. When students arrive at the school, they must bring a sheet of paper to get into the building. The paper has their name, the date, their parent’s signature, and a list of COVID-19 symptoms to be checked yes or no. Of the approximately 950 students that go to Cresskill Middle/High School, 30% are fully remote. That means that there are approximately 330 students that go to school each day. The school collects approximately 1,660 papers a week, not including the papers received during sports practices after school hours. Looking at the number of schools doing this, it is evident that an excessive amount of trees will be cut down every month and these papers will be wasted. There must be a simpler way to safely let students into the school without having to waste paper at a rapid pace. For example, online forms, such as Google Forms, could be completed before a student enters a school instead of a sheet of paper being handed in just to be thrown out later. 

In Cresskill Middle/High School, students can attend class in-person. Every day, a third of all the people in our school are coming to school. Before sitting in class, everyone is supposed to clean their desks with a recyclable towel. They spray disinfectant on the towel and then clean their desks. After, they have an option to put a protective layer of paper on their desks to avoid touching the desk. Every time a CMS or CHS student comes into the classroom, they are supposed to go through this process before sitting on their chair. It’s important that we’ll do it for our safety- we have to stay safe, and that’s the way to do it. In the school there were already two unrelated cases of the coronavirus and now we can’t go to school for two weeks, but hopefully everyone stayed safe and followed all the instructions that the teachers told us in the beginning of the year. 

Climate changes and littering are affecting our everyday life. Each day a person creates about 5.91 pounds of trash. Garbage creates problems, bringing us many diseases, and can affect us in many ways. It creates many problems for our future, but hopefully someday we will fix them. I hope that we all take our responsibility and start fixing them now and that everyone is staying safe.