I learned

In 2021 I’m answering a list of weekly journal questions. Read about it here.

Image result for single use face mask

What I learned from…
…an Australian study, is that single-use face masks might be able to be turned into roads. How cool is that!

Recycling single-use face masks isn’t something I have ever thought about before, but with our new covid life, the use of these masks has increased multi-fold. I can only imagine how much extra landfill they are creating.

Image result for single use face mask landfill

A study from RMIT University in Melbourne found that 3 million masks, when recycled, can be used to build a 1 kilometre (or 0.62 miles) double-lane road by adding shredded mask to processed building rubble. That would stop 93 tonnes (102.5 ton) of masks going to landfill.

Even better, researchers found the use of the shredded masks added stiffness and strength, plus still met engineering standards. Using construction waste helps sort out another environmental problem.

Do you know of any other uses for old single-use face masks?

15 comments on “I learned

  1. Oh that is fantastic!!

    I don’t use the single use ones often. I started early on collecting my cloth ones. And I am happy that I did! I have 40 now (I know its a lot LOL) and can match them to my mood/outfit and then wash and reuse.

    Some of my students find excellent uses for their masks – snacks for example, or instead of tissue to wipe their noses 😂

    • In Australia, we really haven’t had a lot of permanent mask wearing (where I live I haven’t had to wear one at all except to a few medical appointments), so disposables are very much in use. And they are in other parts of the world as well. But I do have all the materials ready to make fabric masks if there comes a time when we have to wear masks (but for the moment I have bought 100 single use masks for the family – I think we still have 97 left!).

  2. I’ll stick with the masks I made, then. Let hospital staff keep the single use ones.

    • Yeah, hospital staff really need the singular use. If I had to wear them day-to-day I would definitely make a heap.

  3. Giggling Fattie

    February 6, 2021 at 8:23 am

    But what do you use when you go shopping?

    • We don’t need to wear masks shopping. We physically distance, register when we enter (we have a QR code system for contact tracing), use hand sanitiser. For the most part, Australia is covid free in the community, hence no masks. Where I live hasn’t had community transmission for 211 days.

      When there is an outbreak (usually from a staff worker in a covid quarantine hotel contracting from air dispersal) then they bring in mask wearing as a temporary measure for that region.

      But the majority of Aussies are really good at doing the right thing. Even though we haven’t had anything for 211 days, everyone is still following the rules (of course, there are always exceptions). I think because our government locked down really strictly from the get go and we saw it worked, we’re happy to do the right thing.

  4. Giggling Fattie

    February 6, 2021 at 9:54 am

    I literally can’t even IMAGINE what a non-mask life is like anymore. I put it on before I even leave my house. Honestly it helps keep my face warm in the cold but also I don’t want to take any risks.

    Going for a walk around the block without a mask?! I can’t comprehend that. Our government is just now considering locking down travel. And we could possibly lose our spring break of holidays for school because they don’t trust that families won’t travel.

    Make up a bed, I’m coming to live with you 😂

    • And I can’t imagine always having to wear a mask. Although I would happily wear one in the cold, lol. When I do have to wear one my glasses fog, so I am glad I don’t have to wear one normally.

  5. Interesting data, Anita. We actually wash our single-use masks. Until they fall apart!

  6. Haha fortunately I have learned some tricks to help with the foggy glasses. There are sprays and special clothes you can buy to help but I haven’t gone that far yet. The silicone bracket I have helps a lot! And if I wash the lenses with dish soap it cuts down on the fog even more!’

  7. One of those things that never made into my scope of curiosity before. There has to be a better use for them than blowing around parking lots, but my mind must have been elsewhere.

    I have, not yet, worn a disposable mask. The first ones I wore I made from some spare nylon cloth I had left over from experimenting with vacuum bagging the blades of a line of paddles I built a line of for my company.

    Then my health insurance company sent me a dozen other washable ones. My local health department sent me two dozen other washable masks, maybe as a consolation prize.

    Somehow disposable masks never got high into those strange thoughts COVID has given me

    • I don’t know of anyone who got a free washable mask in Australia, but then again, we haven’t had the need like you guys. The government has published a few patterns for making them though.

      Honestly, in the big scheme of things, what happens to the masks is probably not on many people’s minds.

      How did the vacuum bagging go? Oh, and you’ll appreciate this story. My Dad bought a new set of roof racks for transporting his kayaks. But the existing ones have rusted on (they live on the ocean so salt). Solution… a new car, lol. Priorities, right!

  8. At least he got rid of the old car. Old kayaks don’t go away often.

    The paddles are a part of my business that the pandemic has killed. Most were sold to tourists in Hawaii and Miami, where they get in an OC-6 (outrigger canoe for six) for the first time and buy a paddle as a memento.

    The vacuum bagging allowed me to keep the weight down by squishing out all of the excess epoxy. To strengthen the blade there are five layers of fiberglass stacked up on a cedar base.

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