Disposable face masks have become part of normal life since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Though many have adjusted to wearing masks, there’s still an issue on how to dispose of them. Research found that over 200 billion masks and gloves go into the environment every month. This could create an environmental problem since disposable face masks are made of materials that non-biodegradable. Since face masks fall in the category of “hard to recycle” plastics, it’s necessary to know how to discard them properly after use. Here are some tips on how to discard face masks in an eco-friendly way.
- Cut Off The Ear Loops
You might not be able to prevent masks from ending up in the environment but you can prevent some of the risks they pose. Face masks can affect the environment in more ways than one. The ear loops attached to them pose threat to wild animals as they can easily get tangled in them. The same problem has been seen with plastic bags that wrap around animals and choke them. Before discarding your face mask, ensure that you cut off the loops to reduce the risk of animals choking.
- Incinerate The Mask
This is one of the most effective ways to ensure that face masks don’t litter the environment. Though burning plastic materials has its own negative impact on the environment, it’s significantly less than simply throwing away face masks. If you have access to a public incinerator, you can drop your masks there. You can also collect disposed masks around your area and burn them collectively. Ensure that you do it in a safe manner and that the waste burns until very little remains.
- Seal Before Throwing In The Bin
Sealing face masks in a paper bag before discarding them not only reduces the risk of spreading the virus but also ensures that they don’t get loose and end up littering the environment. After removing the mask, put it in a rubbish bag then throw it in the trash. Ensure that the bag is durable enough to withstand the rubbish disposal process. Additionally, to avoid littering the environment with more plastic, you can designate a specific bin to throw the masks then dispose of them with your other trash once it’s full.
- Upcycle Your Mask
Upcycling means using materials from a different product to create a new product of higher quality or value. If you have disposable masks in your house, you can give them a new life while ensuring that you conserve the environment. For instance, you can use the straps and nose pieces to make your own mask. You can also use the straps as hair ties. Ensure that you thoroughly clean the material ls before using them.
- Consider Wearing A Cloth Face Mask
If you can, avoid single-use face masks altogether. This reduces the number of face masks thrown out every day. The CDC recommends that people can wear cloth face masks in less congested areas. In fact, medical-grade masks are specially meant for health workers who need them. You can also cover your face with other items such as scarves and handkerchiefs which are less likely to end up as litter.