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In honor of Earth Day this Thursday 4/22, I wanted to call attention to an issue that very few people have paid much attention to this past year: the havoc disposable masks are wreaking on our already delicate planet.
Recent studies estimate that we now use an astounding 129 billion face masks globally every month. That is 3 million face masks every single minute. It is estimated that roughly 75% of those masks are disposable and made from plastic microfibers that cannot be readily biodegraded having the potential to fragment into smaller plastic particles, namely micro- and nano-plastics that can spread at a wide and rapid pace across our already struggling global ecosystems.
Most disposable masks have an average estimated decomposition time of 450 years. FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS. Just think about that. In contrast, the 100% biodegradable bags we ship our masks and filters in have an average decomposition time of 6-9 months under normal landfill conditions.
The global production of disposable masks has increased to be on the same level as plastic bottles, which is estimated to be 43 billion per month. However, different from plastic bottles, of which approximately 25% are recycled, there is no official guidance on mask recycling, making masks more likely to be disposed of as solid waste.
If not disposed of for recycling, like other plastic wastes, disposable masks can end up in the environment, freshwater systems, and oceans, where weathering can cause a breakdown of mask plastics into a large number of micro-sized particles (smaller than 5 mm) during a relatively short period of time (weeks) and further fragment into nano plastics (smaller than 1 micrometer).
So, what can we do? What can you do? Wear reusable masks made from sustainable fibers. Our masks happen to be made from certified organic cotton and as mentioned above our packaging is 100% biodegradable. Can’t get much more environmentally friendly than that. Plus, we donate a pack of masks and filters for every pack we sell. Meaning, when you buy from us, your purchase isn’t just better for the planet but, it’s better for people too.
Stay safe, stay stylish, stay humble.
Founder & CEO, Love Saves Apparel PBC