How Trading in Your Single-Use Face Masks for Reusable Masks Can Help the Planet

How Trading in Your Single-Use Face Masks for Reusable Masks Can Help the Planet

With COVID-19 and an increase in sanitary regulations around the world, we’re also seeing an increase in single-use masks. While these masks are a great solution for keeping us healthy, they pose a serious threat when they’re not used properly and, as such, have detrimental effects on the environment and our personal lives. That’s why we’re encouraging people to transition toward reusable face masks, which are healthier and more eco-friendly.

Below, we’re going to discuss how single-use masks can have a negative impact on the environment and your wellbeing.

Single-Use Face Masks and the Environment

As the pandemic moves forward, environmentalists are becoming more concerned with its impacts on ocean pollution. Single-use face masks are adding to the already frightening amount of plastic waste in our world’s oceans. Furthermore, these disposable masks have been found littered across the bottom of oceans and seas.

The organization Operation Mer Propre was the first to spark worry about ocean pollution related to COVID-19. Recently, divers have found hundreds of gloves, masks, and other COVID-19 related garbage along the seabed. The masks and gloves were reportedly the worst.

With the entire world set on pause and masks required in enclosed places in several countries, it’s only natural that single-use masks will build up in the long run. The French government has ordered over two billion disposable masks, suggesting that these masks, too, will end up in oceans and landfills.

In oceans, these masks break down into microplastics and fibers, however, in landfills, small molecules of materials flow through runoff water, thereby, also finding themselves in water systems. Basically, these disposable masks will nearly always end up in our world’s oceans and seas. This negatively impacts our marine biodiversity and increases the risk to endangered marine life.

What are they made of?

Single-use masks are primarily made of polypropylene, which is a form of plastic created from fossil fuels. In the last few decades, we’ve seen concern among the environmentalist community about the increase of plastics in our oceans and how this can affect marine life.

In 2018, the UN estimated that there are more than half a million plastics entering oceans annually. If we compiled all of this plastic, it would be the equivalent of dropping nearly 34 thousand plastic bottles into the ocean every minute.

Considering the aforementioned numbers were calculated before the increased demand for masks during COVID-19, the number of plastics in our oceans are expected to grow.

Disposable masks have a lifespan of about 450 years, which makes their impact on the environment detrimental. This year alone, Hong Kong established concerns over the impact of disposable masks when Soko Islands had disposable masks wash up on their banks. In a short amount of time, approximately 100 masks turned up. 

The main concern of disposable masks is microplastics, which are being found on beaches, in oceans, and in the bodies of marine life. This has been greatly amplified since COVID-19.

What can you do?

While disposable masks are meant to be thrown out after a single-use, many people are reusing them anyway. This can negatively affect the wearer’s health because bacteria builds up inside the masks while it’s worn and bacteria builds up even more after it’s been removed. Once removed, the mask can be easily exposed to COVID-19 and, once put back on, the virus’s molecules can be inhaled.

While the idea of change may seem unimaginable, there is one thing for certain: if disposable masks are the problem, you can easily switch over to reusable masks. These masks can be reused and washed without having a negative impact on your health. Not only this, but you don’t need to spend an excessive amount of money replacing masks every time you go out or take your mask off. Instead, you can just wash them with your laundry at the end of the day and reuse them the next day.

Reusable masks have the extraordinary ability to protect your health and the ecosystem. It can be difficult to remove single-use plastics from your life in one shot, but replacing the plastics you use on a daily basis with reusable materials is easy.

Final Thoughts

Single-use plastics are known for their negative impact on the environment. These plastics are a major component of disposable masks, which have become mandatory in several countries around the world. In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve seen an increase in the number of single-use plastics found in the world’s water systems.

If you’re concerned about disposable masks and their impact on their environment, you may want to consider making the transition to reusable masks. These masks prevent single-use plastics from entering the environment and protect your overall health.

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