On streets, in trees and floating down rivers - just some of the places you can spot plastic disposable facemasks. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a range of new single-use plastic items being purchased and thrown away. Disposable masks play a vital role in restricting the spread of the infection, but the pandemic has given rise to a new plastic problem that actually has a reusable alternative.
Research carried out for our plastic waste reduction campaign has revealed that almost 13 million disposable facemasks are thrown away in London each week; that amount would cover Wembley pitch 29 times! Disposable facemasks are not recyclable and should only be disposed of in the general waste bin.
Now is the time to make the switch to a reusable facemask and it’s an easy way to cut your single-use plastic. 65% of people who wear disposable facemasks do not realise that they are a single-use plastic. But taking action to cut this plastic waste is not as difficult as it seems. So, if your sewing machine is primed and ready to go, you simply have a needle and thread to hand, or are not into sewing at all, there are many reusable face covering options that you can make.
The Big Community Sew has simple patterns and how-to video guides from expert designers to help you make your own reusable mask – it’s ‘sew’ much easier than you think to create your own design from scrap fabric that you have at home, such as an old pillow case.
To support the NLWA campaign to promote reusable options, we are working with not-for-profit social enterprise Fashion Enter to create over 1,000 reusable facemasks. These will be distributed in the run up to Christmas via food banks and other support services across north London.