Disposable Masks Are Now Littering The World’s Oceans | 22 Words

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, experts have revealed that, on top of the ongoing war against plastic, protective face masks are the latest culprit for the pollution in our oceans.

Keep scrolling for the full story, and to read the grim details surrounding this new development...

For decades now, there has been an on-going war against ocean pollution.

Plastic pollution is real, and it has been the primary material clogging up our oceans and destroying our natural ecosystems.

Because it's cheap to produce and easy to use, plastic has become one of the most commonly used materials in the world.

But years of excessive single-use plastic use has come back to haunt us.

Despite its convenience...

Single-use plastic is notoriously difficult to recycle.

It can take between ten to twenty years for a single plastic bag to decompose...

And all the plastic in landfills can take up to a thousand years to fully break down.

And, as a result of this...

Our discarded plastic has somehow wound up filling our oceans as well as our landfills.

How did this happen?

Well, we simply had so much plastic that there was nowhere else for it to go.

Statistics show that the majority of the ocean's plastic comes from land-based sources.

This can vary from plastic being discarded on the beach or washed down rivers and drains, from it being littered in towns and cities.

Things need to change...

And fast. Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year, according to figures published in the journal Science, and if we don't act now, our oceans could be destroyed forever.

But now, a whole new problem has arisen.

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, new material has been entering our oceans.

As people across the globe are encouraged to wear PPE to protect themselves from the virus...

More and more discarded masks end up in our oceans.

Yep, on top of the disgraceful amount of plastic already in the ocean, we now have face masks to deal with, too.

Who else is slowly losing faith in humanity?

Anyway, it was the French non-profit organization, Opération Mer Propre, who alerted the world to this issue.

The group frequently litter-pick, and they have recently raised concerns after coming across several face masks.

Taking to Facebook, the organization shared a series of photos of masks littered in the ocean...

And, once translated to English, they wrote: "Operation COVID 19 this morning… this is it the first disposable masks arrived in the Mediterranean…!"

They continued:

"Unfortunately, it was expected to see the number of masks and gloves thrown directly into the gutters… more than ever we will have to take action against all these incivilities, from the can to the mask because whoever throws his can will also throw his mask…!"

They are concerned that this could become a global issue.

"It’s just the beginning and if nothing changes it will become a real ecological disaster and maybe even health…!"

Lambert Lambord, of Opération Mer Propre, also expressed his dismay about the situation...

And he worries that the face masks could soon outnumber the jellyfish.

He wrote:

"Would you like this summer to swim with the COVID 19...? Knowing that more than 2 billion disposable masks have been ordered, soon there will be more masks than jellyfish in the waters of the Mediterranean...!"

He has called for MPs and powerful figures to address the problem.

"It is the responsibility of everyone in order to avoid this new pollution but also our elected officials, MPs and public authorities. Indeed, for several years some common people have been trying to fight all these incivilities that are destroying our environment and our long-term health, so it might be time to unite all the right initiatives to solve this new pollution as quickly and firmly."

And, sadly, these face masks take years to decompose.

Masks have an estimated life span of 450 years in the natural environment, making them ‘veritable ecological time bombs’, reported Treehugger.

So, for those of you carelessly discarding your masks into the oceans...

Don't be an a**hole, okay? For more on our beautiful oceans, keep scrolling to read about the world's deepest dive, and to see the terrifying creatures they found lurking in the depths...