Litter campaigners pick up 250 used face masks in 2km walk
Eddie Platt, nicknamed l’Escargot Anglais, and his friend walked 880km from Marseille to Paris picking up discarded Covid masks to highlight litter problem
Two friends – an Englishman and a Frenchman – walked 880km from Marseille to Paris picking up discarded Covid masks to highlight the extent of the litter problem.
The pair picked up around 60-70 masks a day, and as many as 250 in a 2km stretch in Avignon.
Eddie Platt, nicknamed l’Escargot Anglais, first came to attention in 2017 when he hitchhiked 8,000km around France spreading an antiplastic message.
Mr Platt, an English teacher in Marseille, said he wanted to do this recent walk after making the journey by TGV and dreaming of doing it again – but slowly to take in the sights. His friend Frédéric Munsch agreed to join him.
“We also wanted to highlight the horrendous amount of litter on the streets,” he said.
“We had a great welcome along the way but the walk showed us litter is a massive problem everywhere, particularly now with masks. We were invited into schools. When we asked children if they had seen anyone throwing away a mask on the road, their hands shot up."
“‘I saw my mum do it’, ‘my cousin’, ‘a man when he got off the bus’...”
Mr Platt has an association encouraging people to pick up just one piece of rubbish a day and post a photo of themselves on Instagram at #1dechetparjour.
“If all The Connexion readers could follow us, it would be brilliant.”
He said it all started in 2015 when he posted a photo of himself throwing an empty Coke can in a bin in a park in his home town of Leeds, in the UK, which received a positive response.
“Since this first post, my life has changed and I am now in a war against plastic. It’s a complete buzz to have inspired people in this way.”
He has just published a book, available in English and French, The Englishman who wanted to clean France.
Masks do not biodegrade
Surgical masks are not biodegradable and were designed to be destroyed in hospital incinerators.
Consumer body UFC-Que Choisir said it had found in tests that, contrary to official guidelines to use these masks for no more than four hours before disposal, they can be used and washed at 60C up to 10 times and maintain filtering capacity.
State health body Direction générale de la santé publique said official advice is still to throw them away after use.
It said, however, that there are formal studies under way to see if re-use may be possible.