The Environmental Impact of Face Masks
Our collective efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus require us to use all of the tools in our belts: social distancing, hand washing, and the use of face coverings. Face masks are a special concern right now, especially with a new study claiming that up to 130,000 American lives could be saved by universal mask wearing.
Unfortunately, the answer to one big problem might be causing another challenge. Around the world, over 130 billion face masks are being used every month of the pandemic. Almost all of those masks contain plastic. If you’re looking for something else to worry about, there are also the 65 billion plastic gloves discarded every month of the pandemic. We are on the verge of an environmental crisis.
Put Trash In Its Place
No one likes litter. Litter is disrespectful to our shared spaces, and the chemical breakdown of manufactured products, when left behind in nature, can be disastrous. Our waterways are filling up with plastic – with 13 tons a year already flowing into the oceans. Surfers and conservationists worldwide are now reporting sightings of PPE polluting our precious natural resources. One conservationist has even said, “soon we’ll run the risk of having more masks than jellyfish in the Mediterranean.” And this problem won’t go away soon, since the plastic in masks and gloves takes 450 years to completely degrade.
Save the Turtles
Discarded PPE hurts our wildlife too. The problem with masks and gloves in the Mediterranean is that they spell tragedy for sea turtles, who survive primarily on jellyfish. When a turtle mistakes a mask or glove for its food, then the animal is doomed to a painful end.
Ingestion is just one way a discarded face mask can injure wildlife. The straps of single-use masks can become choking hazards or otherwise restrict an animal’s movement. For this reason, any discarded mask should have its straps cut or detached – it’s the same principle as cutting the plastic rings for soda cans.
What to Do
Cutting the straps of your disposable face mask is a good start, but we should also be doing our part to reduce the amount of waste going into our landfills, lakes, oceans, and rivers. That means wearing a reusable face mask whenever possible. We have great tips for which type of mask material works best, as well as some of our favorite accessories for when you pick the perfect mask, but the tool you really need is a maskSAFE.
How does maskSAFE work? That’s easy! It’s a clean and compact face mask case for those moments you are unmasked. By keeping your face covering maskSAFE, you’re protecting it from cross-contamination, and not risking a rip or tear by shoving your PPE into a purse or pocket. Properly protecting your mask can extend its life and reduce the amount of waste going into our landfills and oceans. Get maskSAFE now, and browse our collection.
- the maskSAFE Family