People are now more aware than ever before of ways to prevent coronavirus infections. In line with using masks and hand gloves, they now use a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE). Besides, the use of one-time plastic cups has increased instead of glass cups in tea stalls.
But the plastic cups are thrown away once they are used, which is the key concern for environmentalists.
They say that people are undertaking lots of unnecessary work to counter the virus, but this is damaging the environment.
The unplanned use of such plastic cups will also create a threat for the drainage system of the city, they said.
However, the district administration said there was no alternative to raising awareness, adding that efforts were underway to make people aware.
The tea stalls on the Durgabari Road in Mymensingh city are always crowded. Most of the customers arrive without masks. But they are too careful while drinking tea. Even the tea stall owners also prepare tea without any protective equipment.
But they serve tea in plastic cups instead of glass cups. And the scenario is the same everywhere in Mymensingh town.
This correspondent talked to Suranjit, a youth who arrived to have tea.
He said, "I come to the tea stall every evening to hang out with friends. Everyone drinks tea in plastic cups, and so do I. Later, I throw the cup in the drain next to the tea stall," he said.
A senior citizen of the Sankipara area of the town, seeking anonymity, said, "I feel bored at home round the day. So, I visit the local tea stalls. The plastic cups can help us prevent the spread of coronavirus."
Majnu, a local tea stall owner, said people do not prefer a glass cups now. They want plastic cups, he added.
Not only Mymensingh town, the entire district has the same scenario.
Thousands of plastic cups are dumped here and there every day. Piles of plastic cups are now everywhere in drains and ponds.
Concerned people say that to prevent the spread of Covid-19, people are damaging the environment. And Mymensingh is going to be one of the examples of how the plastic of a small tea cup damages the environment.
Ali Yusuf, general secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik Mymensingh chapter said, "What is the necessity of drinking tea outside the home? We are unnecessarily increasing the use of plastics, and also dumping them here and there."
Measures should be taken against such issues, he added.
Deepak Majumder, food and sanitation officer at Mymensingh City Corporation, said that he has also noticed the increased use of one-time-use plastic cups recently.
"Many shopkeepers are buying them because they are cheap. But there are doubts about them being healthy as these plastic cups are made from recycled plastics," he said.
The city's drainage system is also under threat from such plastic cups, he added.
"The plastic cups being used for drinking tea are harmful to human health. They also damage the environment," said Dr Hasanul Islam Akash, Registrar of the Medicine department at Mymensingh Medical College Hospital.
Such thin plastic cups are supposed to be used to serve cold drinks. They are not suitable for hot beverages, he added.
Alongside the plastic cups, the use of some more plastic products has increased amid the Covid-19 outbreak. The PPEs are from plastic and they are not disposed off correctly.
The use of PPEs gowns, hand gloves, face shields, goggles – all are used in hospitals or laboratories.
However, in the last few months, the use of all these elements began among the common people as well amid the outbreak of coronavirus.
Even though the common people know the use of such plastic products, they do not know how to dispose of them properly.
Mymensingh City Corporation Mayor Ekramul Hoque Titu said, "Cleaners are instructed to clean out such material. The problem is that after using these plastic products, people do not throw them in the right place. It is impossible to solve this problem unless people are aware."
Shibbir Ahmed Liton, general secretary of the Environmental Protection and Development Movement Mymensingh chapter, said it was known that there would be such problems with plastic products during the Copvid-19 period. Such a report was published a few months ago in The Business Standard newspaper, he said.
"But no one paid attention. To survive the virus, we are doing a lot of unnecessary things that threaten our environment. Moreover, it is creating terrible problems in the waste management system of the town," he added.
Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Mymensingh, said that an initiative has been taken to create public awareness to prevent the unwanted use of plastic products.
"Enforcing the law is insufficient. We are trying to make people aware of the issue," he said.