A north-east aquarium is urging people to wear reusable masks in an effort to keep plastic pollution down.
With face coverings now being compulsory to wear in shops across Scotland, staff at Macduff Marine Aquarium are asking people to “do their research” on how harmful disposable masks can be to the environment.
Climate change and plastic pollution are the biggest concerns for nature across the globe, though people were changing their habits before lockdown to help redress some damage.
Learning officer at the aquarium, Marie Dare, said people should be “more aware and making conscious choices” when it comes to wearing the masks.
She said: “People haven’t forgotten about the environment but of course public health does take precedent.
“It’s time now to return to being more aware. Prior to the pandemic, we were starting to see some real progress with people using reusable coffee cups and water bottles.
“We’ve lost a lot of ground with this, due to health implications everything is more disposable.
“The environment was going through a plastic crisis before, and if we don’t take action this could be a tipping point.”
If every person in the UK used one single-use mask each day for a year, an extra 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste would be created. That would have 10 times more climate change impact than using reusable masks.
Reusable face masks may seem more expensive than disposable ones that can be purchased in shops, but Mrs Dare stressed that the cost of disposable masks mounts up over time.
She said: “Lots of people have been getting crafty and making their own reusable face masks but if this isn’t something you can do, they can be purchased online.”