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.
Haunting images show harsh reality of life during World War II for the people of Manchester
A fascinating look at Manchester’s history…
It would be hard to imagine a book that resonates more with today’s uncertain times than Clive Hardy’s latest nostalgia offering – The Home Front – Britain 1939-45.
The unshakeable spirit of a kingdom facing unparalleled challenge shines through Hardy’s highly readable commentary coupled with inspirational images from Britain’s local and national newspaper archives, including the M.E.N.
The result is a hardback that encapsulates the hope rising from the ashes of blitzed cities, the engaging innocence and cheerfulness of child evacuees and the gritty determination of hard-pressed servicemen and women.
We see Dad’s Army volunteers ready to tackle crack Nazi paratroopers with broom-handles and Zulu spears from a long forgotten conflict, women working all hours to make munitions, and Land Girls keeping the wheels of agriculture turning.
There is no shortage of photographs from Manchester and the North West either in what is the ninth publication from Withington company iNostalgia Ltd.
The Christmas Blitz of December 1940 is covered in detail, along with the industrial output of Trafford that produced the hardware to fight the war.
Images include the manufacture of Rolls Royce Merlin engines for Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster bombers at the Ford shadow factory in Eccles and barrage balloons being assembled at Gaythorn Gasworks.
There are scenes of jubilation as crowds celebrate VE Day in the centre of Manchester and street parties break out in the suburbs.
And there’s Belle Vue too. Manchester’s pleasure park never closed throughout the war as thousands sought to forget their woes for a few hours or more after entering the main gates on Hyde Road.
In The Home Front, Hardy takes us from the first stirrings of conflict right through to victory in Japan in August 1945. There is a wonderful mix of family memories and stories as well as the usual informed analysis from a seasoned researcher and writer.
Hardy actually started working on The Home Front well before Coronavirus first visited our shores. “I always wanted to gather together the extraordinary images from our newspapers during the war years”, he said. “Particularly our local newspapers.
“I’m full of admiration for the work of the Home Front photographers who portrayed the struggle and kept the nation informed – often at risk to their own lives”.
One photographer whose work is strongly profiled in the book is Daily Mirror cameraman George Greenwell, who took what are now regarded as iconic shots of St Paul’s Cathedral at the height of the London Blitz in December 1940.
“His images are breathtaking”, said Clive. “There’s one panorama from the dome of St Paul’s showing the statues of apostles silhouetted against the raging fires below. It was used right across pages 6 and 7 of the Daily Mirror on New Year’s Eve 1940”.
But it’s perhaps the images of everyday life that are the most stirring in Hardy’s book. Images like workers balancing precariously on the end of a tram track in the hope of prising a damaged rail from a bombed-out road to salvage it for the war effort.
Or the heart-warming picture of US troops stationed in England spending their own time and money taking children on a cinema trip in December 1943.
There are some fascinating chapters on entertainment and sport, not always covered in wartime memoires. Football was played, albeit on a limited basis, for most of the conflict.
There are jubilant images of Preston North End winning the 1941 Football League War Cup by beating Arsenal 2-1 in a replay at Blackburn’s Ewood Park, and Charlton Athletic playing Reading at The Valley.
Boxing matches were staged on the deck of the Queen Mary moored in Liverpool in October 1941 and the annual Derby horse race transferred from Epsom to Newmarket.
Greyhound racing was hugely popular as it was accessible to everyone. Home-raised dogs could compete with the best on tracks throughout the country.
Hardy includes all the wartime entertainment icons – Wigan’s own George Formby, Flanagan and Allen, Tommy Handley and Vera Lynn to name but a few – as well as providing insight into the BBC Home Service and less familiar shows that toured local theatres.
He also takes an intriguing look at wartime censorship as well as morale-boosting photos that were really not what they seemed – possibly the ‘fake news’ of their day!
In an interesting piece of detective work, Hardy shows how a George Greenwell image of air raid warden Percy Dale helping a Blitz victim in 1940 was in fact a staged shot superimposed on a photo of London’s Paternoster Row in flames.
It was like the famous picture of a London milkman making his way through the rubble to deliver milk, again in 1940. The milkman was actually the photographer’s assistant.
Whatever their genesis, the images did their job.
So too will this book. It could just be the ideal gift for this most unusual of Christmases.
‘The Home Front – Britain 1939-45’ is now on the sale with a special pre-order price of £14.99 – including UK postage and packing. You can get it online from iNostalgia here, or call the order hotline on 01928 503777.
Incredible old Coronation Street photos give rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of the soap in the ’60s
A trip down memory lane…
There were some extraordinary sights to behold when photographers gained access to the hallowed set of Coronation Street half a century ago.
Not least was prim and proper Annie Walker, landlady of the Rovers Return, lying down on a bed with husband Jack – in broad daylight too!
Campaigner Mary Whitehouse would have had a fit!
But it was all perfectly innocent. Actress Doris Speed was taking a break from filming to brush up on her script while fellow actor Arthur Leslie was catching up on forty winks.
It was just one of many insights into everyday life on the set at the nation’s favourite soap in April 1968.
Street stars were snapped in the canteen, in make-up, relaxing in the rehearsal room and even at home.
We saw what the wooden sets looked like from behind the TV façade. Even the famous front of the Rovers was an inside prop without a cobblestone in sight.
The front doors and twitching curtains on the Street were shown to be little more than flimsy panels bolted on to scaffolding.
It was just about enough to look convincing on low resolution black and white TVs. But at least the curtains were real!
The outdoor set was only built in 1968 – eight years after Coronation Street was first aired in December 1960. Before then, everything was on the inside.
To mark the occasion, Granada organised a cast publicity shot celebrating the wedding of Dennis Tanner (Philip Lowrie) and Jenny Sutton (Mitzi Rogers).
Included in the line-up with the newlyweds were Annie Walker (Doris Speed), Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Emily Nugent (Eileen Derbyshire), Valerie Barlow (Anne Reid), Ken Barlow (William Roache), Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) and Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix).
All the TV shots were on a tight angle, so it was impossible to see the end of the scaffolding clearly visible behind the happy couple on the small screen.
Originally the houses on the interior set were built to three-quarters scale. Actors had to walk more slowly than usual to make the houses look normal.
Everything was shot inside because early production techniques made it difficult to record and edit sequences filmed in different locations.
The studios at Granada were not big enough for the entire street to be built in one section, so it had to be split into two halves.
The pavements and cobbled street were painted on to the studio floor!
In spite of the limitations and cramped conditions, some the Street’s most dramatic scenes were filmed there – including the collapse of Number 7 due to a faulty beam in 1965.
There was more tension two years later when Ena Sharples was buried under the rubble of a train crash. There was an agonising wait to see if the Street stalwart was alive or dead.
Fortunately she was dug out by Dennis Barlow and later discharged herself from hospital to stride back into the Rovers as bold as brass.
The new outside set was built on railway sidings near the Granada studios. The TV storyline said it was due to the demolition of the Mission Hall and Elliston’s raincoat factory, and the building of maisonettes opposite the terrace.
The actors called the new set ‘the coldest place on earth’ because the wind was naturally funneled directly down the street. Filming outside was rare anyway as it was far more expensive than interior shots.
It was a lot more cosy inside in the corner shop counter and lounge, complete with a battery of stage lights and cameras.
It was cosier still in the canteen where Margot Bryant, who played the wonderful Minnie Caldwell, was pictured queuing up with her tray.
Taking her turn in make-up was Eileen Derbyshire who played Emily Nugent, the longest-standing female character in the serial.
Emily first appeared on screen in January 1961 and only left in January 2016 after a stint of 55 years.
The 1968 set fared less well. It became the New York Street on the Granada Studios tour but resurfaced occasionally in Coronation Street.
The first time was in 2004 when it doubled as the Davenports car dealership where Sally Webster had an affair with her boss Ian Davenport.
It was also the strip club where Lloyd Mullaney met Cheryl Gray and the nightclub where Kylie Platt was working in 2012.
An almost full-size street exterior was finally built in the Granada backlot in 1982 – and was officially opened by the Queen.
If you enjoyed this head over to the iNostalgia website here for more interesting tales about Manchester’s history.
Artist creates haunting post-apocalyptic images of Manchester
This is so spooky…
We’ve probably never been as close to an actual ‘apocalypse’ than this shoddy year…
James Chadderton is a British mixed-media artist who works consistently on creating apocalyptic landscapes.
They often show nightmare-inducing scenes of cityscapes that blend the line between reality and fiction.
James takes inspiration from dystopian films and video games, drawing the viewer into a crazy alternative reality.
Using famous Manchester landmark he turns the urban landscapes into haunting post-apocalyptic scenes.
Not only does it give us an insight into what the world might look like after an apocalypse, it gives you the chance to let your imagination run wild and wonder how and why.
James’ portfolio includes work for Manchester legend Peter Hook, who he designed the cover of his EP 1101/2011 for. He’s also even worked with EA on the Battlefield franchise.
His work has been displayed up and down the country but now you can have it in your very own home.
He’s also done images of London, Liverpool and even the iconic Blackpool tower.
You can see more images here and even buy one for your house!