For the last few months, people have been wearing facemasks to protect themselves from COVID-19. In some cases, people are wearing multiple masks each day, and there have been many indicators that have made one thing clear.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not being disposed of correctly and pollution is on the rise.
A study from the beginning of the month found that 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves are used each month. And it has been very clear from the numerous sites and organizations out there, that these are not being disposed of correctly.
Not only does this add to the world’s plastic pollution, but it is also an outright safety hazard.
COVID-19 can survive on plastic surfaces for days. Discarding potentially contaminated plastic items (masks and gloves) into the street or any location that is not a garbage can is dangerous. Someone will have to clean up these items and you are putting them at greater risk.
However, what has become an issue is trying to recycle these items. You cannot recycle PPE. It can end up contaminating the entire recycling center and they are simply not recyclable.
Thus, when you discard your PPE, it needs to be in a garbage can and not a recycling one.
Pollution Awareness is Key
The most important way to prevent this situation from getting worse is by raising awareness. Sadly, the number of masks and gloves we are using is likely to continue to rise, especially as conditions begin worsening as reopening continues.
However, by being vocal about it online, you can make a difference. If you want to ensure you are not part of the problem, purchase reusable masks. These will not only help you save money, but are quite stylish.