The rise in disposable face masks, plastic gloves and bottles of hand sanitiser being used to prevent the spread of coronavirus are adding massively to plastic pollution and threatening the health of oceans and marine life.
Across social media, many members of the public have shared pictures of the bright blue gloves and crumbled masks littering streets and parking lots after being discarded around the world.
In most situations, this litter is left to frontline workers to clean up. Those not picked up can be washed down drains and end in waterways and oceans.
In Los Angeles, city officials have boosted fines regarding littering due to the danger dropping contaminated products may pose towards others.
While no-one can dispute the current urgency and importance of PPE, many of these single-use products have already ended up in the oceans, damaging the ecosystem and contributing to plastic pollution.
The WWF has reported that if as little as 1% of masks were disposed of incorrectly and dispersed in nature, this would mean 10 million masks a month polluting the environment.
The report also states that despite each mask weighing as little as 4 grams, it would result in 40,000kg of plastic in nature.
Dropping PPE in this sense is not only a hazardous health risk, but most of the equipment is single-use materials that can’t be recycled and/or are not biodegradable.
Surgical masks, for instance, are made of non-woven fabrics that include plastics like polypropylene.
Many nature projects such as Operation Mer Propre in France has filmed masks and gloves found at the bottom of the waters of the Mediterranean.
It is widely known the disastrous effects plastic has on marine ecosystems. The National Ocean Service explains that plastic doesn’t decompose and instead breaks into tiny pieces called microplastics.
The Ocean Conservancy discovered that fish species consume plastic debris, confusing it for real food.
The brightly coloured latex gloves are being mistaken by seabirds, turtles and other marine mammals as food putting them at risk of severe injuries and death.
An early warning sign of the effects of single-use PPE came back in February when OceansAsia posted a photo with dozens of surgical masks found on Hong Kong beaches.
Plastic has regularly been found in dead marine wildlife, and in 2019 a sperm whale stranded on the Isle of Harris in Scotland was found to have 220lb of debris in its stomach including rope, plastic gloves, bags and cups.
Co-founder of OceansAsia, Gary Stokes, told The Independent: “I’m waiting to hear of the first necropsy that finds masks inside a dead marine animal. It’s not a question of if, but when.”
The Policy Director on Chemicals and Pollution at Greenpeace, Kevin Stairs, has said that there is no scientific evidence that single-use plastics are better than reusable ones.
He said: “When reusing a PPE, we disinfect it. With single-use products, the item is fugitive, escapes the system and can carry the Sars-CoV-2 virus for days on its surface.”
A professor in marine biology at the University of Plymouth, Richard Thompson, has said that while we should not ‘delay giving everyone PPE’ due to the ‘crisis and immense pressure’ we are currently facing, people need to be told how to dispose of them correctly.
He also said that sustainability practices backtrack in a crisis, explaining that the sea is not littered by the use of the product but the way in which it is disposed of.
As such, if the design of any product was made in a way that is easier to recycle and reuse there could be less waste from such products, ‘whether it’s a bottle of lemonade or a mask that’s used in a hospital’.
Over 370,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide and it is imperative we continue to practice safe methods such as social distancing, but there are increasingly more and more sustainable options to single-use products, even in the pandemic.
The World Health Organisation has said that washing hands regularly is more effective than wearing gloves at preventing the spread of the virus.
There are also sustainable innovations slowly beginning to emerge, such as the use of ultraviolet light in decontaminating, and therefore prolonging the life of medical masks.
COVID-19 also remains on plastic longer than almost any material examined (in laboratory conditions) so opting for plastic covered food isn’t necessarily the better option.
The European Food Safety Authority has also said: “There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19”, and that heat during cooking kills the virus.
To cut back on laundry during the pandemic, individuals can consider an ‘outside set of clothes’ that can be removed immediately and stored in a closed bag, giving the virus time to die off.
To limit the number of times you visit the shop and reduce your overall carbon footprint you could opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet, including growing your own vegetables in gardens or balconies and in some cases window ledges or received veg deliveries from local farmers.
A look back at Manchester’s greatest nightclubs and venues
How many have you been to?
Over the years numerous iconic nightclubs, bars and pubs have disappeared from Manchester. Some of these venues have been legendary, others, well, were just a bit dodgy.
Either way, if you visited one it will have left a lasting impression – whether this is positive or negative is another question entirely.
With that in mind, what better time to take a little trip down memory lane and remember some of the forgotten clubs of our city. Enjoy…
Piccadilly 21s was a ‘90s party paradise located in Piccadilly Gardens. It had a reputation for being very loud, very messy and very sticky, with cheap drinks to boot – there were even chandeliers in the bogs.
Unfortunately it also had a reputation for being rough as owt, after it managed to attract gang members and other unsavoury clientele in the late ‘80s and 90s, and it eventually shut down in 2004.
These days it’s a Premier Inn and a Nando’s – so the floors are probably just as sticky to be fair.
Besides having a name which would prove a branding nightmare for modern PR-led venues, Rotters boasted some of the best parties in the city, after it took over the site from Romanoff’s.
Located at the top of Oxford Road, in the ‘70s and ‘80s Rotters was a hugely popular nightclub, especi
It was housed inside the old Gaumont Cinema, and sadly the whole building was demolished in 1990 and replaced by an NCP car park.
Pips, located behind the cathedral, was a popular nightclub in the ‘70s, and was frequented by local musical celebs like Joy Division, Ian Brown, Morrissey and Johnny Marr.
It boasted four different rooms playing a variety of music, including a Punk room, Soul room and the infamous Roxy room with a huge Brian Ferry painting on the wall.
Pips closed in the early ‘80s before becoming a club called Konspiracy – which closed not long after.
The Plaza was one of the city’s most popular venues to dance to the likes of Sinatra and Elvis in the ‘60s, and was located on Oxford Street.
Owned by Jimmy Savile, the disgraced DJ pioneered lunchtime disco sessions for the city’s young workers, where you could grab a quick lunch and soft drink while having a dance.
It later turned into Tiffany’s in the ‘70s, complete with fake palm trees and loads of disco balls, before finally becoming Tropicana, which closed in the late ‘80s. It’s now a Pizza Express.
We couldn’t do a list of iconic Mancunian nightclubs and not include what is arguably one of the most famous venues in the world.
Founded by Tony Wilson in 1982, the Hacienda managed to define a whole era in the city, putting ‘Madchester’ on the map. Acid House and rave culture was born here – as were New Order and the Happy Mondays.
The club closed in 1997 and was demolished 18 months later, with a block of nondescript red brick flats now on the site – called The Hacienda Apartments.
Jilly’s was a Manchester institution. Originally called Fagin’s, it opened in 1970 on Oxford Road before being renamed Jilly’s in 1983, eventually adding Rockworld to the end.
The alternative club was always packed full with a cross section of people with a passion for guitar music, including punks, skaters, goths, metalheads, and indie kids.
Underneath was another club called the Musicbox – previously Rafters – but sadly both venues shut their doors back in 2010.
There’s a hidden tranquil waterfall located in the hills above Rochdale
This looks so peaceful!
If you’re after some tranquillity in your life (let’s face it – we all are), this is the perfect escape and it’s not too far away from Manchester.
Tucked away in the hills above Norden in Rochdale is a beautiful waterfall surrounded by luscious woodland, and its the perfect weekend walk.
Naden Valley is home to four huge reservoirs Naden Higher, Naden Middle, Naden Lower and Greenbooth, which all offer perfect exploring options and ample walking opportunities.
From the top of the valley you’ll find stunning views of Manchester city centre’s skyline towering over the hills in the distance.
The trickling waterfall is in the southwestern corner of Greenbooth reservoir, and is actually heading towards the United Utilities-owned reservoir after running through a housing estate.
There are clear circular footpaths around each reservoir that are perfect for a gentle stroll and are mostly accessible.
There are several flights of stairs to reach the waterfall which is slightly off path and requires a bit of careful exploring.
If waterfalls are your thing, you could also head to Rivington Pike’s forgotten Japanese Gardens just outside of Chorley.
These are the five best chippies in Greater Manchester, according to you lot
When it comes to chippy teas in Greater Manchester, we take them extremely seriously.
They’re a local tradition, something not to be messed with, and everyone has their own favourite chippy – meaning a debate on where should get the coveted number one spot is guaranteed to get even the most placid Mancunian going.
Earlier in the year we asked you guys just that – where is the best chippy in Greater Manchester? – and we got quite a response.
Now as today, Friday September 4th, is officially National Fish and Chip Day, what better time to revisit your answers and help shine a light on the best chippies our region has to offer?
Going through your replies, we were able to determine the top five contenders, and here they are in no particular order.
First up we’ve got Renfrew’s Chippy in Denton, with Andy Manser declaring it the ‘best chippy in the UK’ in the comments (he wasn’t lying, Renfrew’s was actually voted ‘the best fish and chips in the UK’ recently). The online reviews are all very positive as well, with smooth 5 star reviews on both TripAdvisor and their Facebook page.
For more info, head over to their Facebook here and have a gander.
Sykes Fish and Chips
Up next we’ve got Sykes Fish and Chips over in Pendlebury (some of you insisted it’s in Swinton, but that’s a debate for another time). There was a lot of support for Sykes, and the reviews on Facebook back it up, with Sam Burton dropping five stars and writing: “By far the best fish & chips I have had in a long while! Beautiful batter, the fish was absolutely delightful and the chips were fantastic. Nothing too greasy, and for the price was absolutely excellent! Will most definitely be coming back!!”
Can’t argue with that – head over to their Facebook here for more info.
Tony’s Chippy was a very popular choice, with comments mentioning it racking up a lot of likes. Now, there are two locations, with Tony operating chippies in Ancoats and up by the Etihad, and both seem to have a lot of fans. One reviewer on TripAdvisor gave the Ancoats branch five stars, writing: “I visited Manchester and had to try Tony’s chippy after hearing how nice the food is. I was not disappointed. The food was amazing, all freshly cooked and the fish are made to order, it was very busy which reflects how good it is. The price is standard and worth every penny. The staff were very friendly. I will visit this chippy again.”
You can find out more info here.
Armstrongs in Prestwich was another winner according to you guys, and the Facebook page describes it as the ‘Home of the Jumbo Cod’ so it’s easy to see why. Besides massive fish, Armstrongs also has a lot of love online, with Julie Shaun writing on Facebook: “We have been going to Armstrong’s for around 15 years since we moved to Prestwich. The staff are so friendly and helpful and the shop is immaculate. The food is lovely, huge portions so can split between the kids. Definitely recommend and even if we didn’t live near the shop, we would travel a distance as the fish and chips cannot be beaten.”
Head over to the Facebook for more info and pictures of jumbo cods.
Olympus Fish & Chips
Finally we’ve got Olympus Fish & Chips, whose website describes it as ‘Bolton’s award winning restaurant’. One TripAdvisor reviewer didn’t hold back with the praise, writing: “50 of us, paid a visit to the Olympus Restaurant, from arriving to leaving, it was a real treat, each person ordered their own dish, which was quite varied, particularly when we have people with diet requirements, all the feedback was extremely good. Thoroughly enjoyable experience, and highly recommended, we also had background music from the grand piano to provide a lovely day, we will be back.”
You know the drill by now, head over to the Facebook page here if you want some more info.
An honourable mention goes to the two different Kong’s in both Hyde and Flixton, with each of them getting quite a few mentions (making things especially confusing when trying to figure out the most popular places).
So there you have it, the top five best chippies in Greater Manchester according to you guys. What do you think? Are they worthy winners, or should somewhere else have made the list?