During this pandemic, masks have, by necessity become part of our everyday lives. Whilst a few still question their effectiveness, increasing medical evidence has proven that wearing a mask protects others’ and our own health, so much so that wearing them in public has now become compulsory in many countries where Covid cases continue to spiral. We don’t leave home without keys, phones, wallets; for most of us, a mask is now added to this list as we all face this new normal.
Official guidance is to choose reusable and washable masks that comply with WHO guidelines – three layer masks offer us all the best protection. Unfortunately, the cheapest and most easily accessible masks are single-use, disposable masks. As a result, literally millions of masks are being thrown away every single day. Far too often, these single-use mask litter the ground in public spaces and parks, creating serious environmental problems.
Environmentalists are concerned that disposable masks are the newest threat to our natural world. These ‘disposable’ masks, with their high plastic content are adding to the ever-increasing volume of waste that ends up in our oceans and lakes and they have quickly become a major bio-hazard to our precious marine and bird life.
Floating in our oceans, they look just like jellyfish - seals, dolphins, other species of mammals and fish mistake these for food. There are now thousands of cases around the world of these masks becoming entangled in wildlife’s feet or wings. A disturbing image of a seagull with swollen and painful feet, entangled in a disposable facemask, went viral lately; thankfully, it was rescued and has been released.
Another risk, barely considered, is the threat of infection for the people responsible for picking them up; waste collectors are tasked with their collection and proper disposal. Discarded single use facemasks are a potential bio-hazard endangering everyone.
Single-use face masks need correct disposal. After removing the mask, the ear loops should be cut or ripped to prevent these becoming entangled with wildlife’s feet, fins or wings. Obviously, they should be placed a waste bin; there is never an excuse for littering.
Experts say that even when disposing of single-use facemasks correctly, there’s still a chance that they’ll end up in the rivers, oceans and the environment. At best, they will contribute to the tonnes of landfill we create every day. In short, environmental experts are urging us all to avoid using single-use face masks unless in a clinical / healthcare setting
Sir David Attenborough’s recent response when asked what we can all do for the environment was clear: “Don’t waste, don’t waste anything… Just treat the natural world as though it’s precious, which it is. And don’t squander those bits of it that we have control of.”
Single use masks are yet another contribution to this waste. Right now, reusable masks are not only the right choice for the environment, they make sense for on many levels. Easily washed, they are kinder on our pockets in the long term, and with a vast range of patterns, they are now becoming a more personalised fashion accessory.
Scientific experts say that a well-fitting facemask should cover the nose and mouth, fit close to the cheeks whilst allowing the wearer to talk naturally without a gap at the sides. This close, but comfortable fit helps prevent saliva droplets from spreading into the air and potentially, infecting others.
A top example of such a mask is the Curb Comfort Mask; these are reusable; made from a lightweight 3-layer breathable fabric, with a soft cotton lining (following WHO’s recommended protection) have different sizes to fit everyone; a range of attractive designs and their unique cut makes talking and breathing easier. Every mask comes in a sealed pouch and included a handy Curb Caddy to ensure safe and hygienic storage for the mask in your pocket or bag.
Check them out here