Look After Our Island

Spain and the Canary Islands have some of the world’s strictest regulations on the use of masks to combat COVID-19 risk. Visitors and residents have adapted well to ‘masking-up’ in all areas of public space and there is evidence to suggest it has helped us limit our interpersonal exposure.

As a small island, we balance the use of the mask with the environmental concern.

Lanzarote was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, including all its towns and villages and we must act now to preserve this status for future generations. Whilst we are in no doubt that masks are here to help, their correct disposal must also matter.

To put the situation in perspective, the UN trade body, UNCTAD, estimates that global sales of masks will total some $166 billion this year, up from around $800 million in 2019. That’s a lot of disposable plastics and materials to be processed, even without the additional materials for vaccines and their global logistics.

Here in Lanzarote we urge residents and guests to dispose of their masks appropriately when replacing. Recycle where possible, ensure none reach the street or the sea. Clean hands when picking up after less responsible citizens. We will survive the pandemic but our oceans and landscapes must also still thrive.

It’s time to look to the future, beyond the hell that has been 2020 and 2021. Be critical of those who needlessly throw their waste and share the word that we want to be both free of the virus but also free of threat to our clean way of life. It might seem unnecessary today when health is our top concern but tomorrow will thanks us.

We belong to this island, not the other way around.

Written by Alex on March 30, 2021