Reusable masks – to keep you and the ocean healthy

In 2020, the world has drastically changed. Face masks have become part of our daily lives. Our health is important and the need for the masks is undisputed. Our well-being, however, is also depended on the health of the planet, which we are currently endangering with our personal protective equipment.

What may protect us harms the sea

If every person would wear one disposable mask per day for one year, the world would have to dispose of 3 trillion masks. The pandemic has shown that disposable masks end up on the roads, in the fields and in the rivers and the ocean. They contaminate nature with microfibres and chemicals because they are made of polypropylene, a material that is neither degradable nor recyclable. According to recent projections, around 10 million disposable masks end up in in the sea every month with the real amount likely being much higher. These single-use masks and gloves are adding a significant additional amount of waste to our on-going daily plastic waste.

Reusable masks are an ecological choice

COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and we therefore need to find ways to protect both ourselves AND the planet. The World Health Organisation has advised all individuals who do not work in the health sector or who belong to a high risk group to wear reusable masks. Certified textile masks are now available and offer a safe and ecological alternative when used and cleaned properly. Anyone who has to use disposable masks or gloves should please dispose of them properly. In hospitals, worn masks are considered hazardous medical waste.

Keep an eye on the plastic crisis

The pandemic began at a time when the plastic crisis was entering the public consciousness and the zero-waste attitude was gaining much needed momentum. The plastics industry has however since worked hard to reverse this trend. Indeed, it promotes plastic as the most hygienic material and presents single-use plastic as more safe than reusabls. Companies like Starbucks had been replacing reusable items with single-use plastic, and in many places during the lockdown, takeaways were no longer allowed to be filled in reusable containers.

What the plastic industry wants us to believe is wrong. The coronavirus can linger on all surfaces. On plastic, for example, it survives up to three days, which is in fact longer than on many other materials. In contrast, with some simple hygenic rules, the use of soap and hot water, the virus can be effectively removed from reusable items.

It is important that we remain aware of the plastic crisis and its urgency. Our collective commitment to a healthy ocean is crucial. Thank you for supporting us with a donation.

Support our work

Thanks to the support of people like you can we protect marine habitat.