French -British Duo walk 880kms to collect discarded masks and plastic bottles to raise awareness.
One is called “the English snail”, the other “the Marseille boar”. Together, they walked from Marseille to Paris, collecting thousands of discarded facemasks along the way, as well as plastic bottles and fast food waste. Setting off on October 1st, they walk as close as possible to the TGV line, bringing their mission to the people they meet along the way and even staying with them sometimes, when they are not camping in the woods or in a car park. The duo should arrived at the end of November in Paris after having walked 880 km, they picked up and disposed of 6,000 masks. The fine for throwing a mask on the ground is almost 400 euros but this doesn’t seem to be enough to deter people from doing it.
The disposable masks contain polypropolene, which is not biodegradable, it takes 500 years to break down. By November more than 350 million disposable masks had been sold in French supermarkets, not including pharmacies or newsagents. Recent media reports, showing videos and photos of divers picking up masks and gloves, were a wake-up call for many, refocusing minds on the plastic pollution issue, and a reminder that politicians, leaders and individuals need to address the problem of plastic pollution.
In the UK over 53 million masks are being sent to landfill each day. Disposable masks are not biodegradable, they are not made of paper, they are not recyclable and whether they are binned or littered they will still damage the environment. Please use a reusable mask to help take care of the planet.
Where is the logic in people’s thinking? They are basically not thinking. When they wear a disposable mask, throwing a used mask on the ground makes the very act of wearing a mask an oxymoron, not only by disrespecting the environment but they have no consideration for the people who have to collect these masks from the ground, or who are processing them at waste disposal sites, these people are at higher risk with secondary transmission of Covid-19. These public health risks from infected used masks, and the open burning or uncontrolled incineration of masks, leads to the release of toxins such as cancerous dioxins and polypropolene, into the environment, and to secondary transmission of diseases to humans.
The consumption of plastic bottles for liquid disinefectant gel, plastic gloves and disposable wipes have all increased in usage by millions of people due to the pandemic regulations, much of this also ends up on in the ocean and countryside. Moreover, Covid-19 test kits. None of these items are recyclable and they should go in the general waste bin.
The UN trade body, UNCTAD, estimates that global sales will total some $166 billion this year, up from around $800 million in 2019. If historical data is a reliable indicator, it can be expected that around 75 per cent of the used masks, as well as other pandemic-related waste, will end up in landfills, or floating in the seas. Aside from the environmental damage, the financial cost, in areas such as tourism and fisheries, is estimated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at around $40 billion.