Single-use has become a societal norm. Everything from our food and drinks to our cleaning supplies – and these days even our masks – is designed to be used once and discarded. The reason for this is without a doubt convenience. The question is: while convenient now, how will our single-use obsession influence the environment now and in the future? Do we ever stop to consider where the soda bottle or more relevant today, the masks we discard end up?
Let’s imagine for a second that we wore single-use clothes every day and at the end of the day we would discard our day’s clothes on the floor of our room, just to wear a new set of clothes the next day. How long would it take for the floor to be covered under discarded clothes?
The same principle applies to single-use masks, each one you discard ends up somewhere, it might not be in your room but it might just end up in the ocean, river, or worse strangling an animal or getting ingested by an animal. The single-use masks that we discard every day are worsening the problem. Something has to change.
The distinction between a reusable mask and a single-use mask is as the words indicate the design with regards to reusability. Reusable masks are designed to be worn, disinfected, and worn again whereas single-use masks are designed to be used once and thereafter discarded.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks have increased dramatically. It is estimated that the UK could be sending approximately as many as 54 million single-use masks to the landfill every single day. To put this in perspective you can imagine the single-use masks used in less than 2 days across the UK are enough to cover the whole of London. Another way of looking at this enormous amount of plastic waste is imagining that in one day the UK discards single-use masks equivalent to the weight of 100 cars. 
While PPE is indispensable in the fight against COVID-19, the improper disposal of single-use plastic PPE is now posing a huge environmental risk to the planet. The improper disposal has been a result of a combination of things such as composition and risk of contamination and infection.  Whether we want to believe it or not face mask will most likely be part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future, which is why eliminating single-use masks and choosing a reusable mask is not only sensible for the environment but also when considering costs.