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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Fernando

#SingleUseAbuse on World Oceans Days

For weeks of lockdowns and curfew we’ve been admiring nature repairing; reminding ourselves that we mustn’t forget Climate Change and for me, and I know many others, the dream of getting to one of our beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka.

During this time, there have also been so many new cases of single-use abuse.

Single use masks were initially our only option as we ventured into this new territory of social distancing and health safety. Single-use gloves, although not recommended by WHO are still preferred by many. Sanitizers could be purchased in bulk and refilled, but many aren’t and more containers were discarded more frequently as we doused our hands in chemicals and alcohol. Hand washing is still plastic-free and the safest but maybe harder where water access is limited.

The Food & Beverage industry had/have to fight to keep businesses alive and the plastic option is cheaper and easily accessible for the new delivery-only services available.

It is definitely not easy. But, do we really need to have them end up in the ocean ?

Gary Stokes, co-founder of OceansAsia, holds up the masks he found strewn

across beaches near Hong Kong in February 2020 (OceansAsia)

I recall a beautiful day in Mount Lavinia months ago, literally wading through single-use plastic bags. We spent the time in the water clearing what we could. It was a disgusting feeling, the wet bags constantly brushing against and through your legs. Think of the fish and sea life living in that and even consuming it.

Water pollution by detergents and other home & personal care products is another big concern worldwide.

Over enrichment of phosphates can cause water bodies to become choked with algae and other plants. Algae decomposes using up the oxygen available for aquatic life, fish and other plant life are starved of oxygen, Eutrophication.

Chemical detergents and care products are also not great for humans, we wear the clothes washed in the surfactants and enjoy the results of a phosphate-induced lather bath/shower absorbing into our skin before draining it off down our pipes.

At the end of the day, we all have choices and we’ve got to start being conscious decision makers. Savera Weerasinghe, Co-Founder of Waste Action LK and CEO of Ananta Sustainables reminds us, we need to ask ourselves the serious questions.

“Whether it is a mask, the current need of the hour, or anything else we consume, what value does it bring to our lives? In the moment before we swipe our cards or click Buy, can we ask ourselves: How long will it be in my life? Where will it end up and how? Am I willing to pay a price that encompasses the time and effort taken by individual hands to make it with care? Does it provide a service to our natural environment or is it purely extractive?”
– Savera Weerasinghe | Co-Founder Waste Action LK, CEO Ananta Sustainables

When we purchase a product that is not environmentally friendly, do you consider how you will dispose of it? There are options for recycling now.

Get yourself a reusable mask. Educate yourself on safety. Start responsible waste management and raise awareness.

For us to keep our oceans clean, our animals safe and our water bodies clean for ourselves and children to enjoy, we have work to do.

It starts at home.

With love,



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