Just when we assumed Covid-19 was under control, Omicron popped up globally.
Just when we were told Omicron might be mild, the Florona combination emerged. While we collectively battle the Covid family, we must also battle the endless plastics from this pandemic.
That Covid has resulted in significant amounts of plastic waste is not new. What has changed, however, is that protective gear is part of our normal lives now. Initially, masks, gowns, and gloves, made of woven plastic, were intended to be single-use.
Nobody then adequately understood transmission, and fears were that Covid might spread by touching a contaminated surface. Now that we know better, the shift to re-usable, environmentally benign items is essential.
How can this be done? First, states must identify technologies, materials and design that is greener.
This can be done via a challenge or a call.
In fact, manufacturing these can provide jobs in the investing state as well as the export income. Second, government procurement can play a key role by creating market linkages, increasing confidence in the new products.
And finally, some sectors, such as small, private healthcare institutions and manufacturers of single-use items may need subsidies and funding to frog leap into buying and manufacturing green products.
We are all exhausted by this endless pandemic. It may or may not end this year. Instead of passively praying for its end, let us shift to greener ways to protect the world from this virus.
This will also protect us from intense pollution.
Bharati Chaturvedi is the founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group