How Are Face Masks Affecting the Environment?

Winnie Ne STEM Nov 16, 2020

During uncertain times like these, we have to remember to still be mindful of our actions as they still have effects on everyone and everything around us. Beginning mid-March, we were encouraged to wear masks and from then on, wearing a mask has become a requirement in some areas. That being said, face masks aren’t new to us, or the environment, but the increasing amount of face masks being used on a day to day basis may have greater adverse effects on the environment.

Although COVID-19 has helped the environment in some ways, the growing use of face masks and the reopening of many states after quarantine has only set us back another step. We’re told by officials and everyone around us to wear face masks, but they never tell you how to discard face masks or how to use them without harming the environment as much as it is doing now. Improperly discarding face masks can not only cause danger to the environment as animals can get entangled in the elastic ear loops, but it can also put people at risk because the bacteria can live on the mask for several days. So, the next time you’re wearing a face mask, remove the ear loops from the mask and discard them. Another way we can be more sustainable during this time is purchasing reusable face masks. Studies at University College London show that reusable face masks with disposable filters had a worse environmental impact than reusable masks without disposable filters. So, before purchasing your reusable face masks make sure that it doesn’t come with disposable filters and be sure to cut the ear loops off before you discard your face mask. It’s not just us being affected by COVID-19, the environment is being affected as well.

Video and featured image from our partner, Professor Beach Clean

This article was published in partnership with Simple Good, Long Island's first zero waste lifestyle shop with a variety of sustainable, zero or low waste, ethical, eco friendly, vegan and organic products. The Current will be working with Simple Good to promote eco-friendly lifestyle changes. Stay tuned!

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.