Use Hemp Masks, Don’t Lose the Oceans to Covid-19
The threat is grave. The oceans around the globe are teeming with discarded trash that is ugly and stinking, threatening to destroy marine life, and later us.
A good chunk of this trash is single-use face masks, which humans have been using as the first shield against the Covid-19 virus. If you were wondering how these masks ended up in the vast oceans, here is the story.
Why hemp face masks are superior
One of the biggest advantages of hemp made face masks are that their ability to prevent you from infecting others. So you don’t become a career of the corona.
And on the other hand, it prevents you from getting infected, so it is lifesaving.
Here are 11 benefits of hemp face masks that make it a superior choice over any other face masks:
The spread of Covid-19 has resulted in a sharp increase in the production of disposable masks. According to the data shared by the UN trade body UNCTAD, the global sales of these masks could go to approximately $166 billion this year, which is around $800 million of the production in 2019.
A whopping jump indeed!
A major chunk of masks find way into oceans
Most of these masks are eventually being dumped in water bodies, particularly rivers, and end up getting washed up into oceans, posing a grave threat to marine life, and indirectly, to humans themselves. According to an estimate, around 75 percent of the used masks and other pandemic-related waste will get disposed of in the landfills or find its way into the oceans.
Along with the environmental damage, this will also bear the financial costs for sectors like tourism and fisheries. Contrary to the large plastic objects, tiny masks are likely to be mistaken as food by marine animals. Even the disposable masks, which are subjected to uncontrolled incineration will release toxins into the environment.
Marine pollution was always an existential threat to our planet, even before the coronavirus outbreak arrived. However, a sharp increase in the application of one-time-usage masks has made the situation worse.
Deleterious effects of one-time-usage mask visible on beaches
You don’t even need to be experts to gauge the deleterious effects of disposable masks on marine life. While the researchers will give a deep analysis of the hazard, these will be visible even if you are a regular to the beaches.
As highlighted by OceansAsia, a Hong Kong-based organization, a survey of marine debris in the uninhabited Soko Islands of HK noted the presence of about 70 disposable masks. Even the experts were surprised as the beach was about 100 meters long and it was a desolate island. Just a week later, the sea waves deposited another 30 masks.
Alarmed, the guys at OceansAsia checked the neighborhood beaches and the situation was the same. They were taken aback as the damage inflicted by the disposable masks was nowhere less than plastic.
Often, porpoises and dolphins in the oceans also get washed up to the shores, dead. No wonder if a necropsy finds a mask inside squeezed out their life.
Should we let it happen?
Statistics are alarming
Disposable masks generally have a lifespan of more than 450 years, which means they aren’t going anywhere after they are thrown out. These masks often contain plastics such as polypropylene, which increases their ability to damage.
The statistics are startling. The mass of the masks, plastic, and other such waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), floating in the Pacific Ocean, is approximately 80,000 tons. The Mediterranean Sea alone has 570,000 tons of plastic deposited into it annually. More than 250,000 tons of this waste is floating on the ocean surface.
More masks than jellyfish in the oceans
Efforts were on to control the worsening situation, but Covid-19 has pushed the campaign off rails. Governments and even the organizations working to improve marine life refocused their efforts on Covid-control, throwing the anti-plastic movement to the backburner. Worse, Covid-19 exacerbated the situation.
According to the French non-profit Opération Mer Propre, excessive usage of disposable masks resulted in more masks than jellyfish in the seas.
The way out
What the situation warrants are an eco-friendly response. An alternative would be reusable masks.
However, it is grim out there and this won’t be enough.
So what is the way out?
It’s Hemp Masks!
Yeah, the masks made of this marvel crop could pull the campaign back on the rails.
How hemp masks fight Covid as well as pollution
Some people may argue that the pandemic demands an immediate response and the pollution could be tackled later. However, with the hemp mask in line, we can fight on both the fronts with clinical efficiency.
Hemp masks are biodegradable, thus protecting our marine life while shielding us from corona at the same time. It saves the life of humans as well as millions of marine creatures.
Hemp bans have vanished after mistakes were realized
If you still carry the misconception that hemp is a banned substance, you are mistaken. After decades of banning hemp production due to unsubstantiated claims of some vested rates, the authorities worldwide realized the multiple benefits of hemp and the ban has now been removed in most of the places.
In Dec 2018, President Trump lifted the ban on the cultivation of industrial hemp.
As research has revealed now, hemp is more than just a biodegradable material. Rather, it has medicinal properties, right from anti-emetic and anti-inflammatory to anti-carcinogenic.
These human-friendly properties of hemp can be reinforced by ensuring there is no use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers when growing hemp.
Major causes of ocean pollution
Eight major causes of ocean pollution include Agricultural runoff, Toxic Chemicals, Sewage, Littering, Oil spills, Ocean mining, Air pollutants, and Maritime transportation. Paper and cotton industries have earned a bad name for polluting and soaking up water sources.
Production of just 1 kilogram of paper consumes a whopping 323 liters of water. Cotton also drinks up colossal amounts of water and thereafter, chemicals used in creating fabric add to water pollution on a massive scale.
This massive consumption, subsequent contamination, and then the release of water channels eventually adds up to increasing pollution in oceans. Thousands of gallons of contaminated water are poured into the oceans by rivers across the globe. Agricultural fertilizers and pesticides flow into the seas. Negative effects of this mixing of poison in ocean waters are visible in the pollutants covering the feathers of birds and gills of fish.
How hemp helps out
Hemp can serve oceans immensely by helping reduce severe water pollution:
- Cotton requires around 10,000 liters of water to grow just one kilogram of fiber. Hemp, on the other hand, needs around 2100 liters per kilogram of usable fiber.
- Hemp saves millions of trees from cutting, thus indirectly helping in controlling marine pollution as ocean waters do get affected by pollutants in the air.
- Production of hemp reduces the usage of fertilizers and pesticides.
- Hemp is known for rapidly absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and make the atmosphere cleaner.
- It prevents soil erosion, thwarting soil and contaminants from reaching the oceans.
Oceans have been the absorber of pollutants for a long, but the incessant, excessive pollution-increasing activities have put up a threat to marine life itself. The ‘fight’ against Covid-19 resulted in millions of masks getting deposited in the ocean waters, taking the pollution to another level. This brings forth a unique challenge – keep up the fight against Covid-19 while controlling the mask pollution. Hemp masks can play a major role in this scenario.
Termed marvel plant, hemp induced fabrics have several advantages over the other fabrics used for making masks. These masks are not just biodegradable, but also have inherent medicinal properties. Moreover, hemp which this mask fabric is made of, directly helps in controlling the pollution, including that of oceans.