I’m as thrilled as any coronavirus-fearing person that my immediate neighbours have gotten on board with using personal protective equipment outdoors. The U.S. CDC has recommended that everybody wear a mask here, and in New York City at least, a lot of people seem to be following that guidance. Here’s my concern, though: If you’re all wearing gloves and masks, why do I keep seeing them all over the goddamn footpath?
Maybe I’m being unclear here: If it’s on the ground, it’s no longer on someone’s body. Somebody clearly removed that item of PPE at a time when they were not inside their home. Not only have they reduced the personal benefits of protective items at a time when they’re in scarce supply, but now they’re fucking littering too.
I’ve been noticing this increasingly around my neighbourhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn—one of the hardest-hit areas of the city. Here’s what I was able to find in the single square block around my apartment without crossing the street: 13 gloves and two masks.
Who is doing this? Do you not have a trash can in your home?
AND WHY IS IT ALWAYS A SINGLE GLOVE?
I started noticing rising levels of glove-litter while doing grocery runs for families in the neighbourhood. Then I started to see former Deadspin staffer Samer Kalaf documenting the same phenomenon on his Instagram stories. To the best of my knowledge, Kalaf also lives in Crown Heights. Maybe this is a localised issue?
So I put the question to my colleagues. “I’ve been seeing a few but not too many,” reporter Shoshana Wodinsky, who’s in the Upper East Side, told me, “and I’m seeing gloves, not masks.” In Greenpoint, Culture Editor Hudson Hongo claims to have “seen like a mask [and] two gloves by my house,” but was somehow able to determine “it’s been the same ones for weeks.” Reviews Editor Alex Cranz had also noticed an uptick in litter around Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, but invented a fantastical hypothesis that people are “shoving [PPE] in their pockets and [it’s] falling out i hope?”
Would I prefer an explanation other than “people are shit”—the one posited by Deputy Editor Andrew Couts? It would be a balm during these troubled times. But based on the fact that Eastern Parkway now resembles an active genocide against Hamburger Helper’s distant relatives, I’m inclined to agree with him.
I get that it feels like the world is ending. It very well might be. But use some common sense and pick up after yourselves. If we make it out of this we still have a climate disaster to contend with.