For those of us who enjoy spending our time in and around the ocean, a common site that usually accompanies those blue skies and majestic sunsets, unfortunately, can be the unsightly waste products that we typically see: that water bottle carelessly tossed on the sand, the plastic red cup floating on the waves, or most recently, facial coverings washed up on the shore.
While our response to combat COVID-19 has been positive in terms of maintaining social distancing and wearing facial coverings, a by-product of these measures have led to our oceans becoming polluted with a new culprit.
By some estimations, approximately 129 billion facial masks are now disposed of every month. Inevitably, some of those will most certainly end up in our oceans. OceansAsia, the conservation organization, estimates that as much as 1.5 billion face masks may find their way into various marine ecosystems in the year 2021.
While California has always championed the fight to preserve our environment and keep our oceans clean, we at OC Waste & Recycling would like to further this cause by imploring our readers to adopt the strategy of using reusable face masks whenever possible. Reusable face masks are in fact recommended by The World Health Organization (WHO) and not only can they be worn repeatedly, but they are easy to maintain, and you will be doing your part in reducing the amount of waste entering our landfills and water ways.
A reusable cloth face mask can include a bandana or a scarf and can be laundered or washed by hand. To wash by hand, make a simple bleach solution consisting of 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of room temperature water. The CDC recommends, “Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection. Ensure the bleach is not past expiration. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.”
To dry, simply tumble in the dryer. This will help sanitize your mask by eliminating any residual toxins, bacteria or dirt and grim. Finally, when you are not wearing or washing your mask, make sure to store it in a clean, dry place. A good tip can be to keep one mask in your car at-all-times, and another one in the house.
Lastly, wearing a mask is only a portion of doing your part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Proper hand washing and proper social distancing is the best way to prevent contracting or spreading the coronavirus.