The growing disposable plastic mountain of pandemic plastics is starting to surface as the pandemic wears on. In all fairness, it's not the kind of thing you really think about as you line up to try and be a good citizen in the middle of a pandemic.
The truth is that there are many not negotiables about this pandemic that need to use the kind of tough ass Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear and disposable testing etc for frontline Essential Services workers. But what about the rest of us?
Health experts continue to say that washing your hands with soap and water helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Single-use plastic gloves do not contribute to a safer environment, as they are often the source of cross-contamination and contribute to a false sense of security.
For most of us, when out shopping, going about our business or for exercise, reusable masks should be used in daily interactions by the general public. If everyone in the general public were to wear a disposable mask every day for a year, we’d have 3 trillion masks to dispose of.
Disposable masks are composed of non-biodegradable and non-recyclable dense thermoplastics. Once discarded, they become an alarming health and environmental hazard. Dirty, used, disposable masks are appearing on our beaches and making their way to our oceans and a whole new set of marine life hazards.
A myriad of suppliers are now making reusable masks, often from recycled fabrics. You can find them on ekko.world - recycled fabric masks like those above from Minnie & Lou, Surf Sock (who also supply Manly Co-op), Design by Jude, Wonderpants (in the main image), and The Travelling Kimono. Of course, you can all find makers all over the internet. Search for a style you love and which is ethically made with a social conscience. Buy a few so that you always have masks to wear as others are being cleaned.
There are piles of DIY mask instructions on social media and on YouTube. Greenpeace has a super simple no sew mask. Just make sure you get the pin in properly so you don't stab yourself in the nose and create other problems.
If you are wearing masks non stop, you will know that sore ears are a thing. Ear savers are a great way of giving your ears some time out. Melbourne based Precious Plastic is making them out of upcycled plastic and many companies like Crema Joe, who first told us about these beauties are on-selling them.
The #breakfreefromplastic PPE Campaign is the source of the health info in this article. It was created by members in the European Plastics & Health Task Force. The Campaign encourages the general public to wear reusable masks, and wash their hands with soap and water, during the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to protect people and the planet.
Images: Main Image - Wonderpants / Masks - Minnie & Lou / Infographics - Breakfree Plastics / Ear Saver - Crema Joe