Plastic’s Broken Promise


At Orion Magazine, as part of its series “on the effects of the petrochemical industry on life, economics, and democracy,” David Farrier reflects on gloves and their medical history, as well as the strange beauty and environmental cost of cast-off plastic gloves — now oft-sighted street detritus that have become a requirement for many to survive amid the pandemic.

In late March, around the same time I first noticed the gloves outside my house, photographer Dan Giannopoulos was pondering how to document life under lockdown. After the order to isolate was issued, he didn’t leave home for several days, and when he finally stepped out his front door he was immediately confronted, like I was, by a lone discarded glove. He noticed more and more as he approached his local shop, and over the next four days—walking for an hour each day within the same one-mile radius of where…

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