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LETTER: Think of the wildlife before tossing those masks on the ground

'Most of the masks you throw away are made from polypropylene. These masks might take up to 300 years to decompose,' says reader
2021-01-18 Discarded masks
Discarded masks in the park.

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Please, people! Try not to buy throw-away masks. I see them everywhere, carelessly discarded on the ground. 
Most of the masks you throw away are made from polypropylene. These masks might take up to 300 years to decompose.

If you are neglecting to dispose of them properly in containers, they could end up causing the agonizing deaths of all kinds of marine life, including dolphins, sea turtles, and whales.

Many people seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that anything with plastic components can survive in the environment for hundreds of years. Sooner or later, discarded items end up in a lake, and then a river and all rivers flow into oceans. 

Globally, we are using 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves every single month.

Divers and observers are now finding discarded gloves and mask floating underwater, catastrophically affecting the marine life as they mistake the floating items for food and end up starving to death.

Residents have also reported mounds of unsightly protective gear washing up on shores all over the world.

Aside from the environmental/wildlife damage created, there will be a huge financial cost to fisheries and tourism.

“Plastic pollution was already one of the greatest threats to our planet before the coronavirus outbreak,” declared Pamela Coke-Hamilton, director of International trade with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Make a concerted effort to buy cotton, double-layered, washable masks.

If you have no choice but must wear throwaway masks, make sure you always dispose of them in appropriate containers.

Gwen Petreman