Eco group makes 9.5k reusable cloth face masks for informal waste recyclers

reusable cloth face masks
EcoWaste Coalition face mask beneficiaries from Cavite.

EcoWaste Coalition has boosted its “Choose to Reuse” Advocacy with the provision of 9,500 reusable cloth face masks to informal waste recyclers.

The eco group’s bid to help make reuse – instead of throw-away — the norm amid the COVID-19 and plastic pollution crisis, involved a partnership with local women in producing 9,500 washable cloth masks for the benefit of informal waste recyclers and their families in three cities and two municipalities.

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In the spirit of a sharing community, the group turned over the reusable face masks to five partner community groups in Cebu, Manila, and Quezon Cities and in the municipalities of General Mariano Alvarez in Cavite and Taytay in Rizal.

The group’s reusable face mask project was made possible by a grant from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), the largest and oldest environmental organization in Sweden and EcoWaste Coalition’s partner since 2009.

“We have ventured into this reusable fabric face mask project to underline environmental responsibility amid the novel coronavirus public health emergency, which has triggered increased production, use and disposal of single-use plastic-based face masks that are discarded after use,” explained Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While wearing a face mask has become part of the new COVID-19 normal, it is not necessary for everyone to don a single-use medical face mask,” he said, lamenting that “the uncontrolled marketing of throw-away masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) has resulted to these disposables littering streets and ending up in waterways and seas.”

“Efforts are very much needed to prevent and control COVID-19 plastic waste and to ensure that such waste does not cause further harm to the oceans,” he emphasized.

With this project, the EcoWaste Coalition would like to drive home the message that wearing a reusable face mask is environmentally friendly as such a mask can be simply washed for safe reuse while stressing the need for everyone to observe good hygiene practices and other COVID-19 protective measures.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “non-medical, fabric masks are advised for use by the general public when physical distancing cannot be maintained, as part of a comprehensive ‘Do it all!’ approach, including improving ventilation; cleaning hands; covering sneezes and coughs, and more.”

On the other hand, the WHO has recommended the use of medical masks for all health workers in clinical settings, for persons who are feeling unwell, and for people caring for suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

To address the problem with improper disposal of soiled face masks and other PPE, the EcoWaste Coalition is working with local government units in getting necessary ordinances adopted. GMA, Cavite, Lapu-Lapu City, and Manila City have so far enacted their respective ordinances.

“By opting for reusable or washable face masks, we avoid generating non-biodegradable and non-recyclable trash that only adds to the worsening plastic pollution crisis. Over time, discarded masks in the oceans will break down into extremely small particles and may contribute to the microplastic contamination of the food supply chain,” the group said.

EcoWaste Coalition had earlier praised the waste retrieval of flood-damaged electronics after typhoons Rolly and Ulysses struck the Philippines.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to EcoWaste Coalition for providing9.5k reusable cloth face masks for informal waste recyclers.

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The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.