Covid-19 Has Been Terrible for the Environmental Movement

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readMay 30, 2020

Littering is back. Single-use plastics are back. Mass transit is out of vogue. And the scientific models were all wrong.

Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

Amid all the heartwarming stories about wild animals adorably reclaiming public spaces previously occupied by throngs of outdoor-loving humans, have been other developments far less welcome to environmentalists.

In all 50 states, people are starting to venture out again. What have we found? Disposable masks, disposable gloves; everywhere. Even in the parking lot of a D.C. MOM’s Organic Market.

MOM’s Organic Market doesn’t even sell bottled water; instead they have a sign that informs you they stopped selling bottled water in 2004 because it’s bad for the planet and shames you for looking for it.

Yet even people concerned enough about the planet, fair trade goods, and conscious enough about their health to shop at MOM’s are throwing their disposal gloves in the parking lot; more afraid of getting germs in their car than the costs of a society that doesn’t properly dispose of its trash.

And speaking of trash, we’re about to start making a whole lot more of it. Restaurants are cautiously opening; armed with long lists of cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing procedures.

One of the new mandates? Disposable tableware, plates, napkins, single-use everything; everything made of plastic, individually wrapped in sterile plastic, shipped in plastic.

The first generation to grow up with single-use plastic was growing out of them. Now, our newly honed collective Covid-phobia has given us, and federal regulators a renewed taste for them.

Which is a problem. Because the U.S. and other wealthy nations have nowhere to put them.

China stopped taking our recyclables quite some time ago.

All those thin, flimsy, ubiquitous plastic bags in which everyone carried their groceries before reusable grocery bags became cool? These pesky plastic grocery bags have been mucking up recycling machinery for untold years. The flimsy bags, sometimes wet, would frequently get caught in machine separators, causing them to break down.