Masking the Truth: The Pandemics Ongoing Environmental Defects
By Caroline L Hamar, Contributor
In June 2020 Laurent Lombard, of the French non-profit Opération Mer Propre, told The Guardian that “soon we’ll run the risk of having more masks than jellyfish in the Mediterranean.” There have been many reports of increased pollution during the pandemic from many publications, so, we decided to investigate.
Globally, it is estimated, we are using 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves every month, many people have started to raise concerns about what this could do to the environment. Lombard wrote, in a letter to the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, that “with a lifespan of 450 years, these masks are an ecological time bomb given their lasting environmental consequences for our planet.” The organisation Opération Mer Propre have noticed an increase in the amount of pollution on their beaches in Côte d’Azur, specifically gloves, masks and hand sanitisers. But it’s not just in France, the Hong Kong-based Oceans Asia began noticing a similar rise, Gary Stokes commented that “on a beach about 100 metres long, we found about 70 (masks)… And that’s on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere.” Also, according to Friends of the Earth, UK volunteers recorded a “massive” rise in pollution on the beaches.
It’s not the fault of the governments or businesses, masks are essential for keeping the infection rates low during the pandemic. We all want to make sure we do what’s best to tackle the virus. Also, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says masks “cannot be recycled” - for hygiene reasons. So, what can we do to keep ourselves safe but be environmentally aware?
We, the general public, must invest in reusable masks. We would never criticise NHS workers or many other front-line workers for their use of disposable masks - their work is vital and a reusable mask wouldn’t work for them in many situations. Instead it’s the general public - with rules coming into force to wear a mask on transport, in shops, at the hair dressers and in museums this is where single use masks are a problem.
In April the ‘Off-White’ face mask became the most searched for fashion item of 2020, which is not surprising; masks are not really a fashion choice. However, some people still find ways to show off their style no matter the circumstances - we have to admire them. We’re all for making you feel more like you, especially right now. There are many people who still find masks uncomfortable, not just psychically but psychology and emotionally - it’s a constant reminder of the difficult times we’re in. Reusable masks are not just for the environment, having something that represents our style or identity can help us feel more confident in this “new normal”. It’s all about making masks feel less like an intruder and instead part of your outfit.
We have a wonderful collection of masks, Sabinna, Fanfare and Yoroshiku 4649 all create their masks using off cut or up cycled material from their collections. Whilst being sustainable this also gives the added benefit of the masks perfectly complimenting some of the fashion garments within their recent collections. For example, the Fanfare Red and Blue Check Mask and the Organic Cotton Check Sleeve Top - a very cute match! We can discuss these masks as fashion pieces however, we must remember what’s important - they must keep you and others safe… Fanfare’s masks are made with a double layer and have a built in filter pocket, their recommended filters are here. Yoroshiku 4649’s masks are made with three layers of fabric with a filter inside. Whilst Sabinna’s masks have adjustable straps and downward facing pleats.
Titov are committed to helping those on the front lines; the cost of each mask continues to fund the labour and materials for more masks. Made with two layers of cotton and their signature deco material on top this is a sleek mask to bring some autumnal shimmer to the colder days. Similarly, Tokkou creates their masks with Toray Macspec an antibacterial, fabric technology however, the top material is denim. It’s a striking style statement which matches their ultra cool denim dresses. It’s all about safety with that extra layer of self expression.
The U.K. government’s ban on plastic straws comes into effect this October so, let’s not remove one damaging item from our oceans only to begin filling it with another. With statements from Doug Cress, Vice President of Ocean Conservancy, claiming “the masks you throw away could end up killing a whale”, let’s invest in reusable masks to keep safe, lessen the damage to the environment and maybe even have a little bit of fun with expressing ourselves.
Shop Reusable Masks
Non Medical Face Mask - Dusky Pink
Blue Check Face Mask
Camouflage Face Mask Blue
SABINNA Face Masks – Power Couple Set
Protective Face Mask
Upcycled Face Mask
ViralOff® active face mask
Limited Edition - TOKKOU Japanese Denim Face Mask with Logo - One Size
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