In the midst of fear lies both opportunity and disaster. We strive for the former.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to terrorize neighborhoods all around the world.
It’s the end of July, It is still going strong in three of the biggest nations on the earth: India, the United States of America, and Brazil. Of what we know, 16 million people have been infected at the cost of approximately 650,000 deaths.
There could be more numbers due to testing being ineffective and hospitals being too occupied to allow new patients. It’s terrible. Flouting safety guidelines in the early stages of the pandemic led to greater transmission of this coronavirus.
The good news is that many regions have opened areas to the public, their lockdowns relaxed. The transmission rates have slowed down there. The state of New York, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand are some of these regions with improved conditions.
Crowds mill about, and normal life has resumed.
But there are “new normal” which any self-respecting citizen should still be aware of.
The New Normal Of Personal Protective Equipment
All regions that relax lockdowns will have to equip themselves with personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE includes masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer bottles.
Masks are especially important.
They prevent respiratory droplets from spreading between people in close proximity. Since the WHO has warned of airborne transmission in indoor public spaces, it is vital that we mitigate the spread of the virus through masks. Masks reduce transmission rates by a lot.
What Are Masks Made Of?
Common materials used for masks are synthetic polymers and plastics, natural fibers like cotton and hemp, and hybrid materials that use both types of fibers.
Synthetic masks are the most effective at combating transmission rates. These are mainly produced for medical workers at the frontline—though non-medical users also use them if there are enough available. The most famous examples are N95 masks.
Their melt-blown microfiber layer filters most of the air from harmful particles that could be carrying the virus.
But the downside to these masks is their single-use, non-biodegradable nature. We disposed of them at a faster rate. And, once disposed of, they are going to exist in the biosphere for as long as 500-1000 years—unless incinerated. Waste management systems are not equipped to deal with them. Landfills can only cover up the problem, not solve it.
So how are we to solve the problem, as a global community?
We need better masks.
What Masks Are Better For Non-Medical Users?
The long term, environmental unsustainability of synthetic masks is why natural fiber masks are recommended to non-medical users. They would reduce the eventual load on the natural environment. This would have certain advantages:
What Is The Better Natural Fiber for Masks: Cotton or Hemp?
The answer is hemp.
And cotton is not even close.
So what makes a hemp mask optimal?
The Specifics of Hemp Masks
An environmentally conscious user will make sure their mask is washable, mendable, and durable. There are several categories of masks to suit several needs, but there are a few common features that should help you choose the best mask:
Remember to sanitize your hands after removing your mask—and before putting it on.
Washing Hemp Masks
Hemp masks will help you to an extent, but you must remember to social distance as much as possible. The masks can only do so much. It is preferable to avoid contact with other people whenever you can afford it.
Try To Think About Society and World As a Whole
As you might have already heard, this pandemic has reminded us that we have to practice selfless motives to keep society and the world stable. We cannot just think about our own benefits.
Yes, even if the virus has a 4% global death rate, with most deaths being on the older side of the population, it doesn’t mean most of the younger folk can relax in public. It doesn’t mean we cannot transmit it to older people, as carriers.
We must practice caution in every aspect of our lives. We must also think of the overarching environmental repercussions of mask production. We are caretakers of the planet. We have to ensure that the world’s oceans and groundwater prosper in healthy conditions for the recent future. Conservation is the right step. Let’s use the natural fibers given to us!
Author Bio: Jaspreet Singh is the co-founder of the NGO Hemp Foundation which works for the empowerment of economically challenged farmers in Uttarakhand. He works as a bridge between the people and the business to make the farmers economically grow. He loves to hear their problems to provide them an explicit solution. He is also passionate about adventures tours, trekking, and long bike rides.
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