Doug Woodring, founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance, with reusable masks from the SpyHop Facewear collection that supports shark protection. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
The mask is part of the SpyHop Facewear collection released by Ocean Recovery Alliance (ORA), a non-profit Woodring founded in 2010 that focuses on improving ocean health. Like many environmentalists in the city, Woodring is alarmed by the number of face masks washing up on beaches and discarded on hiking trails.
“When you wear a reusable face masks, you reduce the amount of waste that would be created with disposable masks and the packages they come in,” he says.
“Sharks are the most important link in the ocean’s food chain and ecosystem, and are the only ocean animal to have lived through five extinctions,” he says. “Their biggest threat in history is now humans, mainly due to [humans’] quest for the use of shark’s fins for soup. With the sharks gone, the ocean will be gone, as there will be nothing to regulate the health and balance of other species.”
Woodring says a portion of sales from ORA’s masks will also go to the Hong Kong Shark Foundation (HKSF).
Pollution caused by discarded plastics – as well as other pollutants including residential waste, discharge from pesticides and industrial chemicals – is having a devastating impact on marine life and the habitats they depend on, HKSF executive director Andrea Richey says.
“One area of concern is the amount of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury that is entering the ocean and the food chain of marine animals – sharks included,” she says.