On 24 March 2020, the Government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, limiting movement of the entire 1.3 billion population of India as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 pandemic
Following this were many dramatic measures to reduce human interaction, including enforcing strict quarantines, prohibiting large-scale private and public gatherings, restricting private and public transportation, encouraging social distancing. Although the costs of enforcing these preventive measures were undoubtedly enormous, these measures unintentionally brought about substantial environmental benefits.
After decades of relentless exploitation, the human footprint on the earth got lightened. The persistent denial by the industrialist got an answer that climate change is real and that it is a reflection of human ‘exploitation’.
Face masks became the world’s most coveted commodity. The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped life as we know it. Many of us are staying home, avoiding people on the street and changing daily habits, like going to school or work, in ways we never imagined.
While we are changing old behaviors, there are new routines we needed to adopt. First and foremost is the habit of wearing a mask or face covering whenever we are in a public space.
These are some of the things we’ve learned:
Masks are not perfect barriers to transmission, but they don’t need to be perfect if they aren’t used alone. Accompanied by other public health measures such as physical distancing, testing, contact tracing and restrictions on large gatherings. Those measures aren’t perfect either, but when many imperfect measures are combined at a community level, they can be very effective at slowing transmission and reducing infections.
India alone has generated 18,006 tonnes of Covid-19 biomedical waste (PPE kits, masks, shoe covers, gloves, needles, syringes etc) in the last four months, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
COVID-19 led to a huge rise in single-use masks and gloves being used around the world. Like almost all our waste, eventually ends up in the oceans, so do these.
Single-use masks are typically made from polypropylene, a fossil fuel-derived plastic that can take hundreds of years to break down. Meanwhile, they also shed tiny harmful microplastics into our waterways, which are then consumed by unsuspecting fish (and then us, when we eat seafood).
Can single-use masks and gloves be recycled? It is a challenge, particularly as virgin plastic is so cheaply available. “PPE is made from a complex mix of materials that require specific machinery and techniques to recycle,”. “It costs more to collect, separate and recycle the PPE than the value of the resulting recycled material. If the economics don’t work, [authorities] don’t have the incentive to collect and recycle PPE.”
While the Covid-19 waste disposal is applicable to the isolation centers, the home quarantined/positive and suspected cases and the masks being used by the normal people on an everyday basis are not being discarded in a proper way.
We switch to reusable options instead!
Luckily, there are more eco-friendly options on the market, with conscious brands making cloth masks out of deadstock or leftover materials. A lot of people are opting for fabric masks for its efficacy and comfort.
These masks are reusable and can be washed several times making them an eco-friendly option. Along with being super comfortable, cotton face masks are also relatively easier to breathe which makes it easier for people to wear them without feeling the urge to remove or adjust the mask for better respiration.
Wearing a cloth face mask also acts as a simple barrier and helps remind the wearer not to touch their face after touching any potentially infected surface reducing the risk of contracting the virus via indirect contact.
So, let’s play our small part and be mindful of our choices…
…remember the Act I- Scene I
Our team has been researching and started a small initiative ‘EKA’ to support a ‘green recovery’ and contribute to wellness of the community.
We realized the need to start a movement towards natural & sustainable products and practices. We explored there is no need for chemicals, we just need to look to the Mother Earth for answers. We thus innovated sustainable dyeing solutions derived from nature, which are scalable to industrial levels. Our raw materials are totally chemical free, biodegradable, sustainable and available in abundance.
Our innovative approach to make these Healing Masks utilize the eco-friendly dyeing using renewable sources such as NEEM (Azadirachtaindica), KADUKKAI (Myrobolon) and TURMERIC (Curcuma longa). They are lab tested for their antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Support the ‘green recovery’ and contribute to wellness of the community.
Head out to our online store and make your choice.
Stay protected, stay healthy!
Guest Author: Guramrita Oberoi
Founder at Just Be – Pune
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