The witchiest thing I can say in relation to current events, is that your disposable face mask is a symbol of environmental death and self destruct. While society is fixated on a biological pathogen, any progress we made in plastic reduction on a global scale has been thrown out the window in the name of "better health."
When specifically looking at disposable face masks, (never mind the sheer amount of plastics produced to wrap everything for sanitation purposes both in the medical industry and on down the supply chain) the amount of plastics generated to create these masks is now one of the world's largest profitable industries.
"The global disposable face mask market size exceeded a value of USD $74.90 billion in Q1 of 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 53.0% from 2020 to 2027."
I suppose if you were looking to invest your money, this industry would be one to make your list. That is, if you want to let your morals go. "In addition, the rising potential of pandemic outbreaks such as Avian Influenza, SARS, and Swin flu is projected to positively impact the demand for disposable products."
These disposable masks are made with non woven fabrics, or polypropylene. Non woven means it is not spun into a thread. The production of polypropylene is derived from fossil fuels, inherently unsustainable, this process uses multiple chemicals to breakdown and isolate monomers, to then be treated to become polymers which form the bonds. This is then heated and cooled, essentially creating sheets of "fabric" or plastic. It is then chemically treated further to create playability. Chemical and petroleum waste is a major component of production, it is often dumped and discarded obviously causing negative environmental impact and loss of biodiversity at dumping sites.
When researching medical articles relating the correlation between long term mask wearing and physiological effects along with polypropylene on skin, I found most articles were from the SARS pandemic back in 2003-2004. Studies showed "Prolonged use of mask can lead to headache, impaired cognition, nasal dryness, epistaxis, dryness of eyes, adverse skin reactions such as rashes, acne, rosacea, and itching from mask use."
If there's one thing scientists have learned, its that COVID-19 thrives in low oxygen environments, particularly where hemoglobin levels are low (hemoglobin is an iron rich protein that carries oxygen throughout the body via the blood system). So wouldn't wearing a polypropylene sheet over your face help to create a prosperous environment for an organism looking to prey on a weakened system? Nahh, that wouldn't fit into the narrative, and definitely doesn't make any money.
"An estimated 194 billion disposable masks and gloves are being used worldwide every month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study in Environmental Science and Technology."
These masks can never be recycled as they are considered medical waste. They either end up in a landfill where it can take up to 450 years to naturally decompose while synchronously leaching polypropylene and microplastics into water ways affecting drinking water and ecosystems worldwide. They can also be incinerated, which can lead to toxic fumes contributing directly to climate change. In addition, these masks can also just be tossed aside, littered on beaches, parks, city streets and more.
It is estimated that over 1.6 billion disposable masks ended up in our oceans in just 2020 alone. "Soon there will be more masks than jellyfish" warned a French ecologist. This poses huge environmental concern as these plastics can be mistaken by sea turtles, fish, sharks, and plenty of other wildlife as food. Blocking their digestive tracks and ultimately killing them. Even if these disposable masks do end up not being mistaken for food, and do in fact decompose after 450 years of floating in the ocean, they aren't fully gone. Instead they are then broken down into microplastics which are STILL eaten and digested by smaller animals and microorganisms in the food chain. This is literally an environmental crisis.
Like I said, and because I'm feeling witchy, I hate disposable face masks. A complete waste of resources, time, and energy. Never mind the actual inefficacy of them.
On a personal note
I recently spoke up at my local City Assembly Meeting in regards to dropping all COVID-19 mandates. The City proposed to keep mask mandates in place until June 2022 (time of writing is October 26, 2021), having local businesses do the policing to their patrons. Requiring face masks in all public buildings, and vaccine only events with 20+ people. Among the silliest mandate is vaccines to be required after 11pm at bars. My biggest riff with this is the pure lack of reasonable and objective thinking. During my two minute time to speak I simply said that it is time to draw the line. Drop all mandates and let the people choose. For this I lost many followers on my social media accounts. People gossiping, calling me a "hard core right winger." Customers I've had for years, walking outside with their disposable masks on, looking in to see me, only to turn their nose up and continue walking.
Yes, I am a witch, hated for speaking up against societal "norms" counting on truths, and relying on basic biology to live fearlessly and free. Soon the City will start giving citations for non mask wearers. I'm sure they'll come for me, and I'm sure there will be people happy to see me burn. But I don't care, I see a bigger issue, and I'm sorry for those who can't see the forest through the trees. Witch season is here, and I can't help but be anything less ;)
“1.6 Billion Disposable Masks Entered the Ocean in 2020 and Will Take 450 Years to Biodegrade.” Yahoo! News, Yahoo!, 30 July 2021, https://news.yahoo.com/1-6-billion-disposable-masks-142813561.html.
“Coronavirus: Tips to Avoid ‘Maskne’ Skin Irritation.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-tips-to-avoid-maskne-skin-irritation.
“Disposable Face Mask Market Size Report, 2020-2027.” Disposable Face Mask Market Size Report, 2020-2027, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/disposable-face-masks-market.
Lim EC;Seet RC;Lee KH;Wilder-Smith EP;Chuah BY;Ong BK; “Headaches and the N95 Face-Mask amongst Healthcare Providers.” Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16441251/.
“Nonwoven Fabrics Market Share Analysis Report, 2020.” Nonwoven Fabrics Market Share Analysis Report, 2020, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/nonwoven-fabrics-market.
Sam Holder, news reporter. “Coronavirus: Disposable Face Masks Creating New Plastic Pollution Crisis, Experts Warn.” Sky News, Sky, 8 Aug. 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-disposable-face-masks-creating-new-plastic-pollution-crisis-experts-warn-12045350.
Sewport. “What Is Polypropylene Fabric: Properties, How Its Made and Where.” Sewport, Sewport, 28 Feb. 2019, https://sewport.com/fabrics-directory/polypropylene-fabric.
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