At AirPop, we believe in a more environmentally-friendly approach to masking. Disposable masks have been known to be causing large amounts of environmental damage since the early days of the pandemic, but a 2022 article on Business Insider highlights just how big the problem was and continues to be.
The article is headlined by one astounding fact - every minute, 3 million facemasks are thrown away globally. Or, at least, they were during the peak of the pandemic. However, this number must be lowered even a year after the article was released as disposable facemasks continue to be widely used.
During early 2022, it was estimated that 129 billion facemasks were used every month, a truly staggering number. If you walked around any large city at the time (or even now), you certainly would have encountered the all-too-common blue surgical masks strewn over streets and even in bushes and trees.
However, despite the environmental damage, masks were and still are our first line of defence against the virus. As a necessity, how can we avoid this environmental catastrophe? The answer is simple: reusable masks.
Business Insider reports that the plastic industry waged war against reusable masks to make them seem dirty, unhygienic or dangerous. At the same time, disposable masks were paraded as clean, hygienic, and safe. This matter peaked in mid-2020 ‘when the president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association testified before Congress to argue that single-use plastic was a pandemic health necessity’.
Although attention during the early pandemic was primarily focused on the pollution we can see, we’ve since discovered disposable masks are even more harmful. It’s now been proven disposable masks emit micro and nanoparticles of plastic, which further pollute waterways and can even make it into drinking water.
The answer to the issue is obvious - high-performance masks offering long-term reusability to reduce mask waste significantly. However, even years after the lies of disposable masks were first spread, we still feel the impacts as there is a common perception that reusable masks are unhygienic or simply don’t perform.