Done With Your Mask? Don't Forget To Cut The Straps! (a bird will thank you)

Ever wondered what happens to the disposable masks that we use and discard?

These days, wearing a face mask is the responsible thing to do - but unfortunately, that has meant single-use face masks, gloves, and other protective gear are the newest forms of litter on city streets, beaches, and oceans. This is bad for so many reasons, but one of the worst is that the littered face masks can seriously hurt animals.

Every month an estimated 200 billion disposable face masks and plastic gloves are being disposed of and entering the environment. Not only can these synthetic items hurt animals by entangling them, but they can also hurt and even kill animals who accidentally ingest them - something that commonly happens to marine life, even to some of the ocean's biggest creatures.

For birds, the elastic bands of the disposed masks often get stuck in their claws or webbed feet, restricting their movement and hampering their everyday practices.

For the animals of the ocean, it is much worse. They tend to swim into the mask or plastic glove, which can result in suffocation.

What's the best way to dispose of face masks?

When throwing away a face mask, you can snip the ear loops in half with a pair of scissors and make sure to dispose of it properly. Never litter it on the ground, and try not to throw it away in an outdoor trash or set it down outside, as the wind could pick it up and blow it away. This way there is less of a chance it could get tangled around an animal.

Alternatively, you could also invest in a fabric mask to reduce the wastage that disposable masks cost the environment.

A weekly conversation about garbage and our ocean

Want to submit an article? Contact us