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Wear the damn mask smart

Over a month ago, COVID cases have been spiking, and Toronto, Canada is on lockdown for the second time.

Yet some folks still resist wearing a face mask, some folks have been wearing their face masks, and others are avoiding the virus while protecting the environment by wearing cloth face masks. The majority have simply accepted that this is the new norm.

Experts say part of the resistance to masks could stem from confusing public messaging that came from public health officials at the beginning of the pandemic however, recent studies show that wearing a mask significantly reduces the spread of the virus. By wearing a face mask you are not only protecting yourself but more so protecting those around you.

We often hear the phrase - wear your damn mask, here's a look at why we need to wear the damn mask smart. A report by the United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that global sales of disposable face masks this year will be worth 166 billion U.S. dollars, up from around 800 million dollars in 2019.

Disposable face masks are convenient but they are made from layers of plastic and contribute to pollution. These masks are obviously spotted on the street, on the beach, and in our oceans creating a threat to wildlife and habitats.

Pollution of beaches - Image: OceansAsia

According to Teale Phelps Bondaroff, director of Research at OceansAsia, "more than 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and over a million seabirds are killed by marine plastic annually," He continued, "A mask that is ingested by a local turtle, pink dolphin or finless porpoise, for example, could easily become stuck in the digestive

system of this animal, thereby killing it."

To conclude, a mask still contains plastic and even if a face mask is properly disposed of, it does not disappear immediately. The common alternative recommended by environmentalists is to use a reusable facemask and we noticed many people purchasing or making their own reusable mask out of cotton.

For example, one initiative that has been helping the community replace disposable face masks in Toronto, Canada is GiveAMask. Their mission was inspired by teams of home seamstresses who make their masks out of old bedsheets and shoelaces. In addition, the resilience of frontline workers in hospitals, grocery stores, and city services contributed to GiveAMask's duty. GiveAMask's goal is not to make money but to give back to the community. GiveAMask is making a difference in their community by donating the same masks sold to simplify manufacturing and to ensure that those receiving donated masks are getting the same benefits, quality, and care that our paying customers get.

Why buy a bunch of disposable masks when a single mask can be used for several months?

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