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Masks, gloves, and wipes: Proper disposal can help protect wildlife

Wednesday, September 2nd 2020, 1:42 pm - We can't escape the use of some plastic products for now, but proper disposal can help protect wildlife and the environment.

COVID-19 has brought about a resurgence in single-use plastics. From face masks to gloves, to the protective equipment health care professionals must use to stay healthy and safe, many of these products are necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus as experts race to find a vaccine.

But while we can't avoid the use of masks, for now, there are some precautions people can take to lessen the impact on the environment.

DISPOSING OF MASKS

Last month, a viral Facebook emerged suggesting people cut the strings of their disposable masks before throwing them in the garbage. As early as April there were reports of birds dying after getting tangled in the strings.

Even masks thrown in the trash can be a risk to animals, as they can be blown into trees and onto the street by strong winds. They can also be dangerous for animals that like to rummage through garbage, like raccoons.

GETTING RID OF YOUR GLOVES

While some types of latex gloves may be recyclable, experts recommend throwing your gloves in the garbage during the pandemic. If you'd like to take an extra step to protect wildlife, consider cutting up the gloves and placing them in a sealed bag.

WHAT ABOUT WIPES?

Despite the claims that some wipes are flushable, none of them are, and disposing of them in the toilet can lead to major plumbing problems.

“It is a really bad idea to put flushable wipes in your toilet and flush them,” says Mark Mattson, Swim Drink Fish president and waterkeeper told The Weather Network in April.

“Flushable wipes are not flushable, even though they say they are. Also, when there are bypasses, or they don’t get treated through the sewage treatment plant, they end up being discharged into the environment. And we’ve seen that at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, in terms of Toronto Harbour, for example.”

Once in the environment, wipes pose a risk to the health and safety of animals by polluting the water. Animals that eat them could choke or become sick.

The safest way to get rid of your wipes is to throw them in the trash bin.

Thumbnail image courtesy: V Création is with Ramona Reichert/Facebook.

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