The Effects of Disposable Masks on the Environment

The covid-19 has been the main subject of conversation for over a year now. Masks have been mandatory in Quebec for about 6 months within building enclosed sections. After Premier Legault’s statement, on January 18th 2021, high school students now have to wear a mask in school. For that reason, the government provides two disposable medical masks a day to each student. If we do some quick math, millions of masks will be thrown away before the end of the school year. If we remember, in September 2019 was happening the largest gathering for the environment in Montreal. About half a million people walked in the streets of the city asking for changes for future generations. This event was a sign of progression and a demand to governments to introduce changes.

How to find a good mask?

Many masks are available on the market now and it can be hard to know which one works the best. The mask has to have three layers. One has to make sure that the mask fits its face correctly and that it’s the right size. Disposable masks are made to be worn only once. On the other hand, reusable masks can be washed after being used. Antibacterial masks with BI-ONE treatment always stay effective, even after multiple washes. Investing in a good quality mask can assure to be correctly protected from covid-19 and save some money long term.

Increase in pollution caused by disposable masks

Disposable masks are usually made from plastic, which pollutes the environment. When masks are thrown away in the street, not only are they not biodegradable, but they also can be infected, which augments the covid-19 spread in the air.
Agnès Le Rouzic, in charge of the campaign ‘Oceans and Plastic’ at Greenpeace Canada, estimates that one person who goes to work and uses a disposable mask, would use about three in one day. If everybody uses disposable masks, we end up with a lot of plastic used. « We already have a pollution problem that is extremely bad. Now we are creating another form of pollution that didn’t exist before, when we haven’t even decreased or band single use plastic that we find the most in the environment. »
If only one person uses a disposable mask here and there, it doesn’t do too much damage. But the problem is when we think big picture. This is why when the government announced that they would provide two disposable masks every day to every student, it becomes concerning. We can only imagine the enormous amount of plastic that will be thrown away.

An ecofriendly solution

Like we have seen in September 2019, it’s when we stand up together that we can see a change in the right direction. Actions that can be taken to help solve the problem is to invest in a quality and well-fitting reusable mask. Of course, make sure to buy reusable masks that are made locally, since times are difficult for local businesses.


Journal Montréal