• Damon Swisher

Billions of Single-Use Masks Washed into the Ocean

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

During the typical Autumn season, you expect to see leaves littering the streets. During the typical Spring, you might enjoy flowers popping up along the road. In 2020 though, you could anticipate blue, surgical, single-use masks blooming along the roadside, like any other natural feature.

It's truly remarkable how common the sight has become. And it's not just masks; it's gloves, its packaging, and much more.

Now, according to the conservation group Oceansasia, approximately 1-1.5 billion single-use masks have found their way into our oceans, causing scientists and environmentalists alike to hyperventilate through masks of their own whilst frantically trying to figure out impacts, mitigations, and solutions. It's terrible!?

"A billion single-use masks have ended up in our oceans during 2020!" Click to tweet

Andrew Wunderley, Executive Director of the Charleston Waterkeeper, expertly captures the devastating misconceptions of the public and clears up the mist by describing the single-use masks as a plastic woven product, and not a cloth product as most would believe. As with most single-use plastics, they pose an additional threat to wildlife everywhere.

“The gloves are especially bad" Andrew informs, "they look a lot like a plastic bag does which looks a lot like a jelly fish does which means that they’re food for you know fish, for turtles, or anything else that’s out there."

The best way to reduce harmful impacts on the environment is: you guessed it, reduce the use of single-use plastics, or just simply become a responsible human and dispose of your single-use items properly. People who neglect to handle single-use products correctly are the reason we can't have nice things. And I really miss having nice things.

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