Why Facemasks Have Me Worried
Victoria’s has mandated all people living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire wear a face mask outside their home. Even without watching the department’s video, it made perfect sense. Yet as an environmentalist, I’m worried.
Taking care of our health and the health of our community is paramount, and personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital. However, the use of anything disposable must be approached with gratitude and awareness. The fossil fuel spent to make PPE can never be replaced, nor will all pollutants be sequestered. The majority of the materials will never break down, outliving us many times over.
If plastic has you worried during this period, read our blog How To Do Plastic Free July During A Pandemic.
Right now human use natural resources far outweigh what can be produced. In some areas, we are living outside what scientists call our Planetary Boundaries; the border of Earth’s ability to create a safe living space. It is often said that the civilization of today is stealing resources from future ones.
Sure COVID-19 has dampened environmental impacts resulting from declines in economic activity, but as highlighted in this month’s Sustainable Development Report, COVID-19 does not resolve the climate and biodiversity crises and is gravely amplifying income inequalities.
The ‘throw-away’ mentality is an old pattern. The Department of Health has recommended the general public use cloth masks over the single-use surgical, going as far as to provide a make-your-own template.
The key post-COVID business and community objective must be to restore economic activity without simply restoring old patterns of environmental degradation.
The answer is simple;
For every plastic glove, disposable wipe and single-use mask ask yourself is there an alternative? Can it be sanitised and reused? Can I stay inside and go without?
The health of our planet is in every way intertwined with our health. Let’s not forget about it. #choosetoreuse