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Getting face off the streets and into boxes

PICTURE: Anna Noon, Warners Bay Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group and face mask recycling coordinator with Bunnings staff at the installation of the TerraCycle face mask recycling box, which is appropriately positioned next to a battery recycling  bin at the entrance to the Glendale store at Boolaroo.

Helping put face masks where they belong
Littering local streets and bushland like Munibung Hill, or disposed of in rubbish bins. These are not the best places for face masks and yet that’s where too many of them end up.

Munibung Hill Conservation Society (MHCS) has partnered with Warners Bay Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group (WBA-SNG) to place four recycling boxes in strategic locations around Munibung Hill. The locations include Warners Bay High School and Coles Warners Bay shopping complex. The aim is to help reduce one of the major environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – disposable face masks.

Project lead, Anna Noon says: “While face masks have been a helpful tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19, there has been a huge rise in masks littering our streets and waterways. With the support of local businesses and schools, we are diverting thousands of masks from entering landfill.”

“it’s been estimated that in 2020 alone, over 52 billion disposable masks were produced and 1.6 billion of these ended up in the ocean. This is one of the major impacts of COVID that people rarely talk about,” said Ms Noon.

With the NSW Governments face mask mandates set to change this Friday (February 25, 2022), Ms Noon encourages all local residences to gather up any used masks they have lying around their house, car or in the bottom of their handbags and head to Warners Bay Coles or Bunning Glendale to deposit them in a TerraCycle recycling box, where they will be safely turned into items such as outdoor furniture and decking boarding.

Editors note: Face masks have contributed to keeping humans safe but they have condemned many other species to horrendous needless deaths, simply because there has been no mandated take back scheme and no compulsory snip-the-rings policy. Those who make the masks and those who mandate that we must wear them, from the MHCS stand point, need to take responsibility for their return and not pass this on to end-users. This is not rocket science, it’s EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) or Product Stewardship.  This is a basic principle of good earth ethics – Circular Economy in practice.

Waste free party (picnic) planning
Good party ethics for events at Munibung Hill
It’s time to anticipate the need for some protocols around the etiquette we’d like to encourage, when Munibung Hill makes it in to the Lake Mac ‘walking tracks guide’. More visitors will mean Munibung Hill will be a destination for a weekend wander and beyond that an event of some description.
Not in all cases, but enough to make an issue of it, is the mentioning of going waste free for an upcoming event. People either think, well, why wouldn’t you? Or the opposite, are you kidding? It’s impossible to contemplate such a thing! Why do we have such a problem with trying to reduce our impact on nature and finite resources? Is it because we think it will cramp our style, limit the enjoyment that comes from wastefulness that has always been a part of partying? The truth be known, we need to part company with waste and make friends with earth friendly party manners.  After all it’s rude to be a slob when visiting someone’s place, so why do we take the liberty of being a slob when it comes to visiting a nature place like Munibung Hill?
The secret is to not be distracted or persuaded by the commercial hype suggesting that to be a good party host requires acting in ways that load up nature with a whole lot of ‘stuff’ that ends up having to be disposed of after the event – literally.  There is simply no need for conspicuous consumption when it next comes time to organise a party for the kids, or grandma / grandpa or for that matter, or any celebration such as Christmas, Easter, anniversaries and so on. It’s time to push back on behaviour that includes waste – it doesn’t exist in nature and it shouldn’t exist in human-nature.

Resist all the hoo-hah for a host of reasons – with the emphasis being on hosting as a caring host: a host that cares about the wider world not just the myopic world of the human. There’s a lot to be said for a low key, high quality event that sees party goers leaving knowing that they haven’t contributed to a further decline in the quality of life for the other-than-human species that we share this wonderful planet with.

MMM … Issue 27, March 2022 – check out the links in the magazine for ideas