A report by Oceans Asia estimated that 1.56 billion face masks will have entered the oceans in 2020, which will result in an additional 5000 to 6000 odd metric tonnes of marine plastic pollution. These disposable masks will take as long as 450 years to break down and turn into microplastics as it disrupts marine wildlife and ecosystems.
A Netherlands-based designer has devised a possible solution to this crisis. Marianne de Groot-Pons created biodegradable face masks made from rice paper and a mix of Dutch meadow flower seeds. The company, Marie Bee Bloom, said that these masks can be planted once finished and the seeds will sprout and bloom — a solution for the declining bee population as well. The entire mask is made from biodegradable and sustainable materials, including the woollen cords that are hand spun from sheep wool.
Experts also advise cutting off the ear strings of a surgical mask before discarding them, to prevent animals from getting their necks caught in the loops and asphyxiating. What are other ways that you ensure responsible mask use? Perhaps using washable masks to reduce waste?