In these challenging times, people haven’t been leaving their houses often, but when they do, it’s to get groceries or maybe take the dog on a physical distance appropriate walk.

You may have noticed the increase in people wearing masks and gloves as a safety precaution, but more concerning is seeing them scattered across parking lots and public spaces.

Gloves on the ground

It’s important to protect your own health and safety, but we can’t forget about the environment, and the negative impacts littering can have. For example, gloves might contain latex or nitrile, which are not biodegradable. Surgical masks are also washing up on beaches, read more about this and see some shocking images from OceansAsia here.

An environmental organization based in Florida called Clean This Beach Up, has created a hashtag campaign to bring awareness to this issue. Their tag, #TheGloveChallenge, has received hundreds of submissions from around the globe, including Canada.

See the original post here, and consider contributing to the hashtag to help bring awareness to the negative impact of not disposing of gloves properly.

In terms of protecting yourself, are gloves effective and necessary for your trips to the grocery store? Outside of patient care, wearing gloves can provide a false sense of security, and most people do not follow the correct protective steps. Gloves or not, don’t touch your face!

For best protection, the most important tools remain limiting what you touch in stores, washing your hands and physical distancing. So try to avoid unnecessary glove waste, but if you still swear by using them, make sure you take them off properly, take a look at the CDC’s steps.

First came toilet paper hoarders, then came glove litterers, but next is learning how to dispose of used PPE properly!

Masks and gloves don’t belong on the ground, but they also don’t belong in your blue bin. If they are disposed of improperly, sanitary staff will have to remove these items. Take appropriate action and prevent any potential contamination by not placing these items in your recycling bins. Don’t let these safety tools become a tool for transmission, keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 information at UHN and across Canada.

These medical materials should be disposed of in your garbage bin; however, some communities are requesting that they also are secured in an additional bag. So be sure to check with your local collection provider on your city’s guidelines for proper disposal. In general, if Environmental Services staff see 10% or more contamination in your blue bin, the whole load is thrown in the garbage, that’s a lot of unwarranted waste in landfills.

If you ever want a refresher on some common recycling mistakes and how to put an end to ‘wish-cycling’ we have more information about that too! Also, check out our YouTube video ‘How to Recycle at TGH/PMCRT in 60 seconds‘.

While we work towards making sure masks and gloves end up in the garbage and not on the ground, there is also interesting research being done at Yale to find a way to recycle N95 masks. The team’s research is looking into ‘vapor sterilization’ as a means of helping ease the high demand for these vital masks. This process is this being tested but offers an interesting solution to the high demand for masks in hospitals.

Meanwhile, stay safe and help keep our environment safe at the same time!