Chesterfield Borough Council is asking local residents to think about the planet when wearing a face covering and encouraging more people to choose reusable solutions, rather than single use face masks which are not biodegradable and not recyclable.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of single-use face masks have risen with many of these ending up polluting our streets and washing into our oceans.
According to an analysis by scientists at University College London, if every person in the UK used one single use face mask each day for a year, an extra 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste would be created. It would therefore greatly help our planet if people chose to re-use and wear reusable face masks instead.
Councillor Amanda Serjeant, Deputy Leader of the council, said: “We all understand that wearing face masks is important to help protect each other and prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially in enclosed spaces.
"Single use face masks are often made from layers of plastic and if not disposed of properly may end up polluting our streets and oceans.
“As part of the council’s climate change commitments, we’ve been asking everyone to consider what they can reduce, reuse or recycle. Choosing a reusable face mask is one important way that we as individuals can make a difference and help to tackle climate change.”
Using a washable, reusable face covering not only helps to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste being created, it also means that supplies of clinical standard face masks remain available for NHS staff and other key workers.
A reusable face covering can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head or one that you have made at home. There are many patterns available online. These can then be washed at 60 degrees so ready to use again.
For anyone looking to purchase a reusable face mask, a list of local businesses selling them can also be found on the Plastic Free Chesterfield website.
Guidance suggests that if you can, you should wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where it is difficult to maintain safe social distancing to help control the spread of COVID-19. They are compulsory on public transport.
The council is also urging those who do wear a single use face mask to dispose of these responsibly by placing them in a bin.