Proper mask disposal in Hawaii requires ‘important stewardship’

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Disposable masks are stronger than most think — the strings of these masks are so strong that they will saw right through a ballpoint pen with just a little friction.

Environmentalists said proper mask disposal is very important when it comes to material as strong as this.

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“It’s been this type of debris that has been really, you know, been a result of the pandemic that we didn’t used to see on our beaches or streets and roadways or in the environment before.”

Lauren Blickley, Hawaii regional manager at the Surfrider Foundation

According to the Surfrider Foundation, these PPE are commonly found littered in streets, beaches and sidewalks. They are usually the single-use, disposable kind.

“So it could just be that, you know, they’re not as expensive, they’re used one time and people see them more as a throwaway item versus if you’re using a mask consistently a lot, you know, you wanna hold onto that mask, that’s your mask,” Blickley said.

“The masks are also you know, they’re nasty stuff — they’re made of plastics and things like that. So they’re definitely having an adverse impact once they’re in the environment.”

Lauren Blickley, Hawaii regional manager at the Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation expects masks to be around for a while with Hawaii’s mandates and their effectiveness at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Reusable masks are always available, but Blickley said, the bottom line is human behavior.

“It’s really important, especially in Hawaii with our mask mandates to protect ourselves and protect human health. We’ve seen that masks are one of the best ways to prevent large-scale spread of the coronavirus,” Blickley said. “That being said, there’s also important stewardship aspects that you can use as a mask-wearer and making sure that you’re holding onto your mask and disposing of it properly and making sure it makes it goes into the trash can and not out into the environment, or utilizing a reusable mask when you can, are some really important options to consider so we don’t have this new type of pollution continuing to impact our coastlines and environment and beaches.”

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