Today marks the return of wearing facemasks in shops and other settings and, whilst we all accept that this a necessary move, it's vital that we all consider the enviornmental impact at the same time.
A lot of work has been done in recent months to ensure that the fight against climate change is at the top of the political agenda so it's important that we enter this new era of mandatory mask wearing with those sentiments ringing in our ears. It's not complicated to prevent masks harming the environment yet it still seems to happen.
Imagine the scenario, you're out for a strole and notice a used mask on the ground, you obviously don't want to touch it in fear of the virus so it stays there until it blows away to land in our waterways or to become a threat to wildlife - it could have all been so different. Last the BBC reported that an estimated 129 billion face masks are being put into the environment every month, no doubt this reduced rapidly post pandemic, however with the new rules it is like that figure is set to rise again - so what can we do?
The solutions is sustainability and by that we mean opting for a mask that can be used time and time again. Of course it makes sense to have 2 of these to allow for washing, but if we were all to use a re-usable mask it would revolutionise the waste issue and instantly reduces mask litter. However, the world is not perfect and nor are the people in it, plus there will always be some settings and situations in which a single use mask will be a necessity. But the solution is still simple - dispose of the mask securely. The key factor is to stop these masks becoming litter. If you do need to use a disposable mask there are 3 simple steps:
- Always cut the ear loops to prevent any chance of these being tangled around wildlife
- Always place the used facemask securely in a waste bin
- Never drop a used facemask on the floor or place it where it could blow out of a bin - if you're out and about and the bins are full - take the used mask home with you.
It really is that simple - so let's all try our hardest under these new rules to use a re-usable facemask wherever possible and if not, dispose of any single use ones securely in the appropriate bin.