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Womblers hope to find fewer masks

Womblers hope to find fewer masks

Thursday 27 January 2022

Womblers hope to find fewer masks

Thursday 27 January 2022

Guernsey's volunteer womblers are hoping that the relaxation of rules on wearing masks will be good news for the environment.

The volunteers, who clear litter, estimate they have picked up thousands of discarded masks since the covid-19 pandemic arrived in Guernsey in March 2020.

Now that wearing masks is no longer mandatory in most places, womblers hope they will see fewer of them left around the island.

Sam Reoch co-ordinates the Facebook group 'Found on the beach in Guernsey', which records items found on the island's beaches and other locations which are frequently found to have been littered.

Many members of the group regularly walk their own patch and gather rubbish which they are able to dispose of in an arrangement they have with officials who work in waste teams for the States.

Members, including Ms Reoch, have picked up litter from various locations where large quantities of disposable masks have been left over the past two years, such as around the airport and hospital.

Ms Reoch told Express she was pleased when the States' Civil Contingencies Authority announced on Tuesday night that masks were no longer mandatory in most places, .

"I’m so relieved to hear that face masks are no longer mandatory," she said.

"Picking them up from the lanes, roads, car parks and even beaches was a never-ending task. Sadly, I still see them everywhere, especially when we are out and about in the car.

"They are a potential threat to wildlife and sea life if caught up in them as we have sadly seen from many photos from the media."

masks litter sam reoch

Pictured: Some of the reusable masks which members of the 'Found on the beach in Guernsey' group have picked up over the past two years. 

Ms Reoch and her colleagues have found many reusable masks as well as their disposable equivalent. They may have been accidentally lost or thrown away when no longer needed. 

One disposable mask was found entangled around the legs of a sea bird. On that occasion, swimmers nearby were able to cut the straps away safely, but the risks posed by thousands of discarded masks are clear. 

masks litter sam reoch

Pictured: A bird found entangled in a mask in Guernsey.

Manufacturers of the the blue FOHWA Disposable Respirator masks - which have been on sale locally throughout the pandemic and use of which has been insisted upon by some health authorities - state that they should be put in with medical waste after being worn only once.

The side of the box in which the blue masks are supplied states: "Care for the environment, care for the earth."

Pictured (top and above): All images are from the 'Found on the beach in Guernsey' Facebook page and are reproduced with the kind permission of Sam Reoch.

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