• Jerianne Bardoel

Community Mask Clean-Up


Lethbridge Clean Up member. From left Will Woods, Alyssa and Dave Kusalik, Delilah and Dennis Traber. Photos submitted

Initial 87 masks cleaned up.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were instructed to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the virus. Gloves could also be worn to help prevent the spread. When the masks and gloves are not disposed of properly, these items end up on the ground in our communities as well as in our oceans.

It was stated back in December 2020 on www.oceansasia.org/covid-19-facemasks/ that an estimated 1.56 billion face masks will have entered our oceans in 2020. Creating an additional 4,680 to 6,240 metric tonnes of marine plastic pollution. The report used a global production estimate of 52 billion masks being manufactured in 2020, a loss rate of three per cent, and the average weight of a single-use polypropylene face mask (three to four grams) to arrive at the estimate.

Vermilion resident and owner of Reflections Funeral & Cremation Services Ltd. Candice Anderson noted that her sister Alyssa Kusalik expressed how annoyed she was with the number of masks she and her family are finding on the ground in Lethbridge when they go out for walks.

“She has continuously picked them up on her travels and disposed of them but this last week, within the five-block walk, she picked up 87 masks. She, alongside her husband Dave, our dad Dennis Traber with wife Delilah, and their friend Will Woods decided to do a mask/garbage clean-up. With just these five individuals and in only three hours, they cleaned up more than 1,200 masks and five large garbage bags of general refuse,” commented Anderson.

Anderson went on to explain that the story was picked up by Global News Lethbridge and noted that the story was one of their most popular Facebook posts and that people were commenting that they wished they knew of the clean-up and hoped another would be planned in the future.

“We decided that we should act on the momentum it had created and select a date within the next couple of weeks. With these individuals residing in southern Alberta, and I in northern Alberta, we decided that we should join efforts and create an Alberta-wide initiative,” Anderson explained.

Anderson who has previous experience planning events was able to quickly create a Facebook event, email, poster, and began sharing it on social media.

“We laid out some very specific guidelines to ensure that this is a positive event. We would like to see communities big and small join in on this endeavor, and whether it is a small amount or a substantial amount of masks disposed of, it’s a great opportunity to show the world (because this is a global issue at this point), that Albertan’s can ban together and make a difference,” Anderson said.

The Cleanup Initiative is set for March 28, and Albertans are encouraged to start in their community and come together at 4 p.m. at their local City, Town, or Village Hall to tally the total numbers of masks and bags collected. Guidelines are available at https://fb.me/e/1bK9QzqnP.

“We are hoping that leaders / small businesses in each community reach out to us to help organize and share this event in their location. This way we can reach a further number of people, have responsible individuals who ensure there is proper disposal of the masks, can take photos/videos, and provide us with the total number of masks collected in their area,” noted Anderson.

Anderson’s sister Alyssa commented,” we’re blown away by the number of people sharing what we’ve done so far and showing such interest in joining us.”

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