NEW DELHI: While Covid-19 may become history someday, millions of discarded masks are unlikely to vanish from the planet in the next few hundred years. When we throw them away, these masks not only harm the environment in the long run, but they can also endanger the lives of animals nearby.
What Is The Problem
Plastic’s simple methodology is used. Masks, like all other plastic materials, endanger waterways and bodies of water. That is where they degrade into even smaller pieces of microplastic, releasing hazardous chemicals in the process. These chemicals cause ocean acidification, which has a direct impact on marine life.
Aside from clogging waterways like other plastic, ear straps on masks can entangle wild animals. Masks tangled in the wings/fins of birds and fish have already been observed. Animals are directly affected by how trash is disposed of. Because animals frequently mistake trash for food or shelter.
How You Can Bring The Change
Starting with reusable washable masks is an excellent way to prevent mask waste from piling up by the second. Those who do not work in the medical field can easily switch to washable reusable masks. Join the Elastic Cut Campaign to keep masks from endangering wildlife. It’s just a matter of cutting the elastics while disposing of the masks.
The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in the United Kingdom has urged people to “snip the straps” of their masks before discarding them. The charity’s staff has received an overwhelming number of reports of animals and birds becoming entangled in the straps of masks.
They have reportedly dealt with 938 incidents of animals caught in litter, such as tin cans, elastic bands, and plastic bottles, since the start of lockdown in March of 2020. In an interview with The Independent, the charity’s chief executive, Chris Sherwood, emphasised the importance of using reusable masks and snipping the straps.
“We want to spread the word that straps should be stripped in the same way that can plastic rings should be cut. Unfortunately, animals are prone to becoming entangled in them ” Chris said.