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Pennsylvania authorities are urging people to stop abandoning coronavirus protective masks in the state’s streams in response to a litter problem.
Borrowing a line from Dr. Seuss’ children’s book “The Lorax,” the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission asked residents to be mindful of where they dispose of their masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are the PFBC; we speak for the fishes. Please listen now to our 2021 wishes: When done wearing your mask, don’t be mean; please throw it in the trash, not in the stream,” the commission added, along with an illustration showing a fish with a surgical mask over its face.
The famous Dr. Seuss allegory, written in 1971, is about how people can make a difference when it comes to preserving the environment.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” the PFBC quoted from the book.
For months, people have been littering masks in trails, parking lots, beaches and other locations around the world – leaving behind unsightly pollution that can harm wildlife.
Coronavirus masks are “the new plastic bottle,” NBC Montana reported over the summer.
A Nashville nonprofit that promotes reusing old materials for creative projects began urging residents to use washable masks in October after mask litter became a problem in the city.
And a Michigan nurse’s video post in April blasting shoppers who wore rubber gloves to the supermarket only to throw them in the parking lot afterward went viral.
Improperly disposed of masks also have been linked to clogged storm drains and sewers throughout the US.
The Environmental Protection Agency weighed in with a public service announcement in March urging Americans to throw out their masks – not litter or try to recycle them.
Discarded masks were found floating in the Mediterranean Sea back in June, floating like jellyfish, the Guardian reported at the time. And more than 1.5 billion of them are expected to litter the oceans in 2020, according to OceansAsia, a Hong Kong-based environmental group.
Critics of mask mandates also mocked mask litterbugs on social media, posting photos of face coverings found left at parking lots, beaches, parks, trails, sidewalks, streets and other public spaces.
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