Single Use Face Masks Are Going To Landfills - STOP Get a Reusable Mask!!!
Even as vaccines have started to rollout we all must take steps to ensure we stop the spread and protect ourselves. Unlike in the early days when single use face masks were few and far between, when we prioritized them for first responders, handmade multi-layer cloth face masks grew. Manufacturers began ramping up and the influx of single use face masks took off.
What is a Single Use Face Mask Made of?
Surgical face masks, the most common single use face mask, are made from non-woven fabric and polypropylene, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, or polyester. Non-woven fabric has improved bacteria filtration and air permeability over woven cloth. Surgical masks are composed of multiple layers, which includes a layer of non-woven fabric and several layers of plastic. The filtration level of a mask, depends on several factors including: the fiber type, manufacturing process , the plastic web’s structure, and the cross-sectional shape of the fiber.
Why Are They Bad for The Environment?
Surgical face masks are only intended to be worn for one day, and if a face mask is lost, straps break, or just doesn't fit it gets disposed of and replaced with another. With face masks being recommended for those over the age of 2 this could lead to a massive heap of waste if everyone chose a single use disposable face mask. Just think of the amount of waste generated if half of all people recommended to wear face masks choose a disposable one. Since these face masks are used to combat the coronaviruses including COVID-19 and it is possible for the virus to come in contact with the mask they must be disposed of properly, since they are not recyclable as they are considered medical waste and should be incinerated.
You don't have to go far to see masks discarded as trash on the ground. And if we have learned anything about single use plastics we know that we can anticipate that a majority of discarded and disposed of single use masks will end up in landfills or floating in seas and endangering the environment and marine life. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that, if the large increase in medical waste, much of it made from environmentally harmful single-use plastics, is not managed soundly, uncontrolled dumping could result.
What Are My Options?
For those in constant contact with those infected with the virus need to use disposable masks for safety reasons, however when those are in short supply a reusable cloth face masks is a great alternative. Since most of us are not in constant contact with those infected a cloth face mask is a great choice, particularly a fitted face mask made from cotton fabric. Cotton fabric is good at blocking liquid droplets and can provide protection against airborne particles. Additionally cotton face masks are washable, reusable, and recyclable which is better for the planet.
If you're looking for quality reusable face masks please visit Spivey Stitch Shop on Etsy.
Care Instructions for Cotton Reusable Face Masks
The CDC recommends the following for proper care and cleaning of reusable face masks
- Five things you should know about disposable masks and plastic pollution
- How Surgical Masks are Made