• Claudia Bosso

Why it’s time to dispose of disposable masks

We’ve all been anti single-use plastic bottles, we’ve lobbied against the use of plastic straws, we’ve changed laws on plastic bags, and we’ve all been partial to a mini wooden set to replace plastic cutlery. However, a new plastic pollutant is taking over our oceans and we’re not talking about it enough.

The single-use blue and white disposable face masks will go down in history as a staple symbol of 2020. Nearly all of us will have worn one. From them being handed out at shop fronts for people who’ve forgotten their own, to packs of 50 being a sell-out product on Amazon. They’re everywhere.

However, the nonchalant way in which they’re thrown in the bin suggests that many people don’t know that they’re made out of plastic and are already polluting the environment.

One recent article in The Guardian was titled ‘more masks that jellyfish’ and it warned of the potential problems and current ways in which the masks are damaging our ocean ecosystem. From animals and birds getting caught up in the straps and turtles believing them to be food, to the materials breaking down into micro plastics and being ingested by smaller fish. Their effect is incredibly negative and ever-growing.

There are no exact figures on the extent of the pollution yet but the fact that millions have been relying on single-use PPE throughout the pandemic and then throwing them straight in the bin, means conservationists are warning of the pollution that is to come. It is vital that we do what we can from this point on to reduce the effects that we can still control.

One may think that the world is slowly going back to how it was before, with pubs, restaurants museums and cinemas all open again. However, one thing that will arguably be here to stay for a while longer is the face mask- particularly on public transport. Therefore, this is a conversation that needs to be had now.

The solution is to wear a reusable face mask, with a pocket for a filter, that can be re-worn, washed and can live a long and useful life. Many of you will have them by now but for those who don’t we’ve compiled a list of small-ethical brands to buy your reusable face-mask from.

It is worth noting that for those whose medical masks are a medical requirement, these reusable options aren’t applicable. These suggestions are for those who needs to wear a face covering due to government guidelines and not for the necessity of their own protection.

Where Can I Get Myself A Reusable Mask? Click the links below!

1. The Simple Folk:

This eco-friendly company craft their masks using 100% organic cotton. They are double-lined, washable, reusable and include a filter pocket for extra protection. They make masks for both adults and children and with every purchase made, they will donate a mask to a woman and child in need.

2. Subrina Heyink Vintage:

This black-owned second-hand clothes business is sensational in general with incredible vintage gems however they also make masks using 100% Liberty of London cotton fabric and 100% washed cotton muslin lining. Their patterns are extremely pretty and stylish, contain a filter pocket and can be bought with a pack of filters.

3. PHYNE on Good Apparel:

These are eco friendly, vegan masks made with organic cotton. They offer the sleekest designs which can match any outfit. And if this wasn’t enough, all proceeds from these masks are given to the NHS.

4. People Tree UK:

These ethical and sustainable face coverings are made from 100% organic cotton by the women of the swallows in Bangladesh from left over fabric from past production.

5. MAASK on Wearth:

MAASK are an ethical Brighton-based brand. They make their masks sustainably using 100% recycled ocean plastic fabric (how cool is that!). On top of that, for every order made, they donate two medical-grade PPE face masks to front line workers in the UK.

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