Masks That Protect the Planet
Back in the olden times, pre-coronavirus, I was working to eliminate single-use plastics from my life. When COVID-19 made self-protection a matter of life and death, I wore disposable masks and anything else I could find to keep the monster at bay. Now I’m seeking more sustainable solutions, starting with cotton masks. Here’s what the experts advise.
Avoid wearing disposable surgical masks. According to Louise Edge, a senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace, “Over time, single-use plastic masks will break down into tiny microplastic particles that are too small to ever be removed from the ocean or rivers.” Cloth face coverings, with two or preferably three layers of cotton, can be washed and reused practically forever.
Make your own mask. Repurposing stuff you have at home is always better than buying new. You can fashion one from a bandana, pieces of an old t-shirt, or (if you’re willing to pick up a needle and thread) scraps of cotton cloth.
Here are simple, step-by-step instructions.
Wash your masks in cold water (unless you’re at higher risk). Tossing your mask in with other laundry, even set as low as 20C, is fine “for everyday normal use where you know the likelihood of someone having COVID is low,” according to virologist Maitreyi Shivkumar of De Montfort University Leicester. If someone in the household has the virus, you think you’ve been exposed, or you’re a healthcare worker, she recommends washing at 60C.
NYT: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation by John Lewis
(Written shortly before his death, to be published the day of his funeral.) “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”
Oh, Never Mind:
Vanity Fair: How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air” by Katherine Eban
Jared Kushner set out to solve the crisis, not with public health experts, but with bankers and billionaires. They planned for the federal government to distribute tests to heavily affected areas and oversee a national contact-tracing infrastructure. But the effort ran into concern about the stock market and the president's reelection prospects. “The political folks believed that because [the virus] was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.”
Grist: Apple’s low-carbon aluminum is a climate game changer by Maria Gallucci
While manufacturing laptops proves the new material is viable, researchers are still figuring out how to scale up low-carbon production. If they succeed, they could eliminate a significant chunk of aluminum’s carbon footprint.
Just for fun: In Your Face!
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