Many places around the world are now requiring people to wear face coverings in public spaces … but this new way of life is causing new and dangerous problems.
Single-use masks are now finding their way to our beaches, oceans, and rivers where they are causing pollution and hurting our wildlife.
Take a look at these videos and pictures …
Ocean conservation organization Oceans Asia fears that animals will mistake the masks for food after already experiencing the dangers and effects of plastic on marine life.
“We’ve seen whales and dolphins washing up with plastic bags inside their guts,” stated Gary Stokes, of Oceans Asia. “A similar thing could happen with these masks. They also shed tiny harmful microplastics into waterways, which may be consumed by unsuspecting fish and us.”
The pollution is happening all over the world.
In Hong Kong, a beach clean-up discovered 70 masks along a 100-meter shoreline. In the Mediterranean, masks have been reported to be floating around like jellyfish.
While millions of people are being told to wear face masks and form new habits, there’s also very little guidance on how to dispose of or recycle them safely.
As countries lift their lockdown restrictions, the number of single-use masks used monthly will increase to the billions.
Imagine the impact this will have on the environment and animals without better disposal practices.
It could be a disaster.
Part of the problem is that a lot of PPE is cheaply made from a complex mix of materials that are difficult to recycle. It costs more to collect, separate, and recycle the PPE than the value of the recycled material.
There are new innovations of environmentally friendly face masks being created.
One thing you could do to protect wildlife is to use reusable masks. In fact, it would be a good idea to always carry a spare so that you aren’t forced to use a disposable one if something goes wrong with your first.
If you do have to use a disposable mask, take it home and put it straight into your trash bin. Make sure to cut the straps. Sadly, animals are being killed or injured by getting tangled.
At Karmagawa and SaveTheReef, we know this global pandemic has had a big impact on us all.
As the world continues to change, it’s important for us to be mindful of how our new habits will affect the planet and all living things.
We’re all in this together.
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The director of this video, Amir Zakeri, created a masterclass for anyone in the Karmagawa and SaveTheReef community who would like to make documentaries to support important causes. If that’s you, here’s a discount to get 50% off the regular price.
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What do you think about the pollution that single-use masks can cause if we don’t dispose of it correctly? Leave a comment below.
(Cover image: Take Photo/Shutterstock)