Very inexpensive, ubiquitous, and easy to handle, the known enemy of the environment — plastics have been playing a very important role in keeping healthcare centers and hospitals running and protecting our frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re the very foundation on which medical equipment and protective gear are based. As demand for masks, gloves, gowns, and other equipment grows by leaps and bounds, we know for sure that plastics are here to stay. They’ve always been here and will always be. Especially during calamities such as these.
But that’s only one way of looking at plastic consumption. The terrifying impact of COVID-19 and the unprecedented measures taken across the globe has led to some really important queries for those working to combat plastic pollution.
How do we take care of all those in our community who have hit the hardest by the outbreak? Can the recycling industry survive COVID-19? And, how can we keep our work going in a world in which “normal” still seems so far away?
The waste pickers in the informal sector have long worked on the frontlines of perseverance and tenacity to keep cities and villages free from waste and litter. Yet with a nonchalant attitude towards their health benefits as well as job security, they are facing imminent threats to their livelihoods and safety.
When will we stand up for them, their basic dignity of life, their needs, and their wants to live a simple and secure existence? Will the recycling industry?
But it’s clear that we would need governments and businesses to do their bit. They must make sure that there is support for waste pickers when they cater to COVID-19 challenges. This can be done by ensuring that they have personal protective equipment and are connected to community resources for their basic needs. Healthcare facilities are a need for them more than us.
These are trying times and also the right time to show our humanitarian side. Just like all of us, waste pickers deserve a life of dignity and all of us should work towards it.
Originally published at https://ikidyounot.in on May 26, 2020.