Special Report

A Year in Review: 17 Non-Obvious Ways Life Has Changed During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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16. More plastic

COVID-19 has tremendously increased the need and use of plastic as people wear gloves and face shields, order takeout, and install plexiglass dividers in stores, salons, and offices. This is only going to add to the massive amount of plastic already produced that has never been recycled. Already since 1950, the world has created 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste, 91% of which has never been recycled.

Streets have been swamped with discarded gloves and masks, and personal protective gear is already washing up on beaches around the world.

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17. Gun sales skyrocket nationwide

U.S. gun sales have soared in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest over the summer, and election fears since November. Nearly 5 million people in the U.S. bought a firearm for the first time in 2020, representing between 40% and 50% of gun store sales, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

More firearm background checks were conducted in each month of 2020 than the same month every year since 1999. Overall, background checks in 2020 skyrocketed to nearly 39.7 million, breaking the record set in 2019 of 28.4 million.