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Wear Reusable Face Masks!

Dec 30, 2021
face mask hanging on a fence - Unsplash, Tim Mossholder

by Christine Muller

How many face masks does humanity use? 129 billion face masks every month, 3 million every minute! That is mind boggling. The huge toll on the environment is just starting to get recognized. The masks end up in landfills, rivers and oceans where they cause numerous problems. Wildlife gets caught in them or eats them and then starves to death. Eventually the plastic breaks down and enters the food chain with multiple mostly unknown dangers to human and ecosystem health. 

While the waste is already a visible problem everywhere, the harmful impacts of their production are more hidden. The manufacturing of disposable masks uses many natural resources and causes pollution including greenhouse gases that are warming our planet, which causes the climate to become increasingly hostile to human life. Moreover, many face masks are produced under abhorrent sweatshop conditions.

So, what can we do? It is very important to wear face masks wherever there is a danger of spreading Covid. However, most people who are vaccinated and not at high risk and don’t work in health care are fine wearing reusable face masks. You can wash and reuse cloth masks for a long time. This website provides information about eco-friendly reusable face masks: 13 Eco-Friendly Face Masks for Sustainable COVID Protection

Oh, and if you still have disposable face masks? Use them up, but before throwing them out, cut off the loops so that wildlife does not get caught in them.


Face masks and the environment: Preventing the next plastic problem 

The Social and Environmental Impacts of Masks 


Christine Muller, Teacher of Music and the Environment

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I also teach a course on climate change for the Environmental Sciences Department of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran. I have served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for more than a decade. In recent years, much of my time is spent serving the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum ( as its secretary.  My formal academic background is in music, and I enjoy part-time piano teaching, playing and - when there is time - composing music. A recent composition is Humans on Earth – a Ballad of Our Time for two singers, string orchestra, piano, and percussion. Its lyrics include quotations from scientific sources and the Bahá’í Writings. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio


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