Are masks the new straws?              by Charly Brennan

Opinion
Climate
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Mask pollution

Recent news reports have claimed that the number of single-use masks in the ocean will soon outweigh the number of jellyfish. We are less than a year into the coronavirus pandemic yet the pollution already associated with Covid-19 is horrifying.

With many countries now requiring people to wear masks and/or gloves in public areas, we are witnessing increased amounts of litter on our streets and in our oceans. The UN Environment estimates that 13 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every year. This is only set to increase as single use face masks become a feature of our day to day lives.

We saw the damage that straws and plastic bags could do to our sea life, and they were an optional extra in most people’s lives. Now imagine the impact that our new ‘necessities’ are having.

BUT, it’s not all doom and gloom, we’re here to let you know what you can do stop masks becoming the new straws.

So, what can you do?

  1. Consider buying an eco-friendly reusable face masks: A quick google search in your region will show that there are plenty out there and they usually end up cheaper in the long run! The added bonus is that they look nicer and feel heaps better against your skin!
  2. There may be times where you forget your face mask and have to use whatever single use mask is on offer, it’s okay, we’ve all been there! Just make sure you dispose of it properly once you have finished using it.
  3. Make your own mask! It’s a lot easier than you think, and all you need is a bandana, handkerchief, piece of cloth (or whatever else you have lying about) and two hair ties - elastic bands work fine too but are a bit of a pain if you get your hair stuck in them.

How to make your own mask

Step 1:

  • Get your piece of cloth, bandana etc. I cut out a rectangle from an old shirt
 

Step 2:

  • Fold both sides inwards so that it is roughly 15cm in width


 

Step 3:

  • Slide two hair ties across, roughly 20cm away from each other
 

Step 4:

  • Now, fold both ends in to meet each other, and tuck one end into the other. If this doesn’t feel secure enough for you, you can add a safety pin on the underside of the folded ends.

Step 5:

  • Hold the face mask up against your face and slide the hair ties over your ears. Done!
 

This was really simple and only took 2 minutes to make. There are a lot of different tutorials online which I tried and tested (with varying degrees of success), but this was by far the simplest!

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