Legislature surrounding the wearing of COVID-19 masks has officially become defunct as of Thursday 23 June, ending a two-year-long reign of having to cover our faces.
While some South Africans are choosing to continue wearing masks out of a concern for their health, others are celebrating by throwing them away.
Cloth is tricky to recycle, and single-use masks even more so. So what do we do with them now?
FUN WAYS TO REPURPOSE YOUR FACE MASKS
If you’ve already purchased enough stock to last you a few waves and variants, you can put them to good use in various creative or fun ways.
A Google search reveals dozens of ways to repurpose them, from a sleep mask for your eyes to hammocks for hamsters!
Making a tote bag out of masks;A seedling bag for your outdoor plants;A hammock for your hamster or baby bunny;Creating fashion garments like a dress, jacket or a scarf;A sleep mask for your eyes;Hair bows and accessories;A phone-charging station;Clothes for dolls;Potpourri sachets;Little bags to keep your make-up, accessories, or even small change;Facial wipes or make-up removers;Serviettes or napkins; and Material for your kid’s next art project.
RECYCLING MASKS RESPONSIBLY
Like any unwanted objects, face masks need to be disposed of responsible way. Failing such could result in a harmful effect on our natural environments, claims the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) director of Environmental Sustainability, Manfred Braune.
He said: “Many of the face masks are littered across precious natural resources such as rivers, beaches, and oceans, causing harm to our fauna and flora. [This includes] the elastic bands fixed to the face masks, which all kinds of creatures are getting caught up in”..
Braune also provided recommendations on how to dispose of your face masks safely and effectively. They include:
Cutting the rubber band on both sides before disposing of it.Make sure they end up in a dustbin, and nowhere else.Where you can, safely pick up and dispose of any face masks that you find littering your environment.Create awareness of these environmental issues among colleagues, friends, and family.