The Way We Live Now #17: Litter

More and more people are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. It’s starting to show in many ways. There are more people on the sidewalks, more traffic, more people going to the coast or taking trips.

And face masks are becoming a larger component of the litter I see when I’m out walking.

Sebastopol’s streets are pretty clean overall, but there is still litter, in specific places, and especially the Mondays after holiday or event weekends. It’s not uncommon to find fast food containers in the gutters, crushed drink cans (soft drinks and beer) and once in a while broken liquor bottles. Often it’s just scraps of paper–sometimes large scraps, like the shopper section blew out of the daily newspaper, or something.

And masks.

I see two kinds of masks in the street; the paper daily-use masks, and a second type of mask that is sturdier than paper, not as sturdy as cloth, and not designed for continued use although they can be worn more than once. I don’t know what the material is, but these are clearly disposable masks.

I don’t see many blingy, slogany, logo-stamped masks, or many handpainted fabric masks on the street. I suspect that if one of those blows off your face, you hunt it down. After all, you may have paid ten or fifteen dollars for it.

I do see some fabric masks though. Usually they are the plain black fabric ones, and usually they’ve been driven over or walk on.

Do masks fly out of cars? I’m not being sarcastic. Some people hang their masks from their rearview. If the windows are down, it seems like they could blow free. Or, if you’re riding in a car with the mask dangling from one ear, it could blow out the window too. Or maybe a cranky, itchy child pulled theirs off and dropped it.

I’m glad you all don’t need your masks so much outdoors. I’m glad we are making the progress we are making. But please, don’t litter! Pick up your masks.

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