Citing a recent study from the University of Denmark, Science Daily reported that an estimated 129 billion face masks - most of which are disposable - are worn globally every month. This translates roughly to 3 million masks being worn per minute.
Even if only half of those masks are thrown out after a single wear, that adds up to more than 60 billion disposable masks clogging our landfills each month – not to mention littering our parks, waterways and wild spaces – harming the habitats of wildlife. Discarded single-use masks have been found washed up on shorelines and covering seabeds from the Mediterranean through to the Philippines.
There is no doubt that the environmental impact of COVID-19 is vast, but with Earth Day just around the corner, we can all do our part to help tackle this problem, stay safe and #StopTheSpread.
Choose to re-use
By choosing a washable, reusable face mask like those from ISKO Vital+, you are not only protecting yourself and others, but you are also doing your bit to help reduce waste. Our face coverings are made with soft, comfortable organic cotton. They meet international safety and environmental certification standards and remain effective at helping stop the spread for up to 30 washes (15 for our Premium range), which means instead of disposing of up to 30 masks each month, you’re only using one or two.
Cut the cords
Much like the plastic rings on six packs of cans from past decades, ear loops from face masks are dangerous to wildlife. You’ve no doubt seen reports everywhere from Greenpeace to your local news showing birds, hedgehogs and sea life tangled up in these ear loops. No matter what masks you wear, please help protect wildlife by cutting the ear loops before you dispose of them!
Removing the ear loops from ISKO Vital+ masks also makes it easier to recycle the masks once they’ve reached their limit of washes. Check with your local textile recycling programmes for further information and details. And if you’re not able to recycle, think about upcycling the material for household uses like dust rags or fabric patches, but before you do…
The final wash
After your reusable mask has reached its limit of 15 or 30 washes, we ask that you please wash it one last time. This helps reduce the risk of passing any infection on to sanitary workers or people working in recycling facilities, helping to further #StopTheSpread.
There are no shortage of ways to get involved in helping clean up COVID waste this Earth Day. Charities ranging from Surfers Against Sewage, Greenpeace, local animal organisations and wildlife charities like the RSPCA are organising beach clean-ups and other challenges. EarthDay.org is asking us to do our bit to combat isolation and to help clean up waste by taking part in the #trashtag challenge - sharing snaps of our litter picking on social media using the #trashtag hashtag.
However you take part in Earth Day this year, don’t forget to choose a reusable face mask, stay socially distant and always #WashYourHands!