Think Twice Before Tossing Your Face Mask
What was once bottles and cans is now face masks. If you’ve left the house at any point during the Coronavirus pandemic, you’ve most likely seen face masks left in parking lots, on sidewalks, or in other public places. Unfortunately, all of this newfound litter has been leaving an environmental burden, and experts expect the PPE litter to only get worse as we get closer to the end of the pandemic.
What the Evidence Shows
The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit focused on community clean-ups based out of Washington DC, conducted a survey in early 2021. They learned that a whopping 94% of their volunteers discovered PPE pollution at cleanup events during the first year of the pandemic in 2020.
Volunteers from about 70 countries brought in around 107,220 pieces of poorly discarded PPE – which were mostly gloves and face masks. While most was found on sidewalks, in streets, or in parks, over a third of the volunteers noticed PPE floating in bodies of water.
PPE Litter Affecting Wildlife
In August of 2020, scientists in the Netherlands found a fish that was trapped in a worn nitrile glove that made its way to the water. If humans are having to deal with life in the pandemic, the animals have to, as well. Scientists have suspected that many animals are being affected by disposable masks, plastic gloves, and other PPE that people either lost or discarded in public areas. If these materials aren’t picked up or found by clean-up crews, there is a big chance they will end up in our waters, impact animals, and more.
New Jersey’s Clean Ocean Action Executive Director Cindy Zipf stated said that if we use PPE properly, we can save lives, but by disposing of it incorrectly, we are killing marine life. Zipf also stated, “PPE litter is a gross result of the pandemic, and 100% avoidable. Use PPE properly, then dispose of it properly in a trash can. It’s not hard and it’s the least we can do for this marvel of a planet we all live on, not to mention ourselves.”
One worry by scientists is that animals could be eating and digesting PPE, and we have almost no way of knowing how often this is happening. Public health advocates have recommended cutting the straps off your disposable face masks before throwing them away. These straps could make it easier for animals to get trapped in the mask.
Shop Wholesale or Retail PPE Online at DEFEN95
While we don’t recommend tossing your used PPE in public places, we do recommend wearing PPE to keep you and others safe! Whether you’re shopping for your family or for a business, we offer purchasing options for everyone! Shop our collections page to buy directly online or send us a message for wholesale information.