Now that face coverings have become compulsory in many public places in the UK, there has been a rise in the number of people purchasing single-use, disposable masks. There has also been many questions raised about how often masks should be used, and the correct way to dispose of them, with many worried that they are not following the guidelines correctly.
The general public are right to be concerned; disposing of used masks or gloves incorrectly could risk spreading the infection they’re designed to protect against. Therefore there are a number of measures which must be taken, when disposing of your mask.
You must remember that single-use masks should be disposed of after every time you wear them. It may be tempting to re-use them, particularly if you have only been outside for a short period of time, but this could potentially put you at risk of picking up the harmful virus. Advice also suggests that masks should be replaced as soon as they become damp, which means that you will probably have to take more than one out with you, even on a short journey.
However, before you even think about disposing your mask, you must first ensure that you correctly remove it from your face. This should be done using the elastic, rather than the front of the mask itself, as there is the possibility that you can pick up harmful bacterial which may have been transmitted on to the fabric.
Once the mask is removed, disposing of it is actually very simple. If you do not have symptoms of Covid 19, and have not been in close contact with anyone displaying symptoms, there is actually very little to worry about. These masks can be thrown away in your day to day rubbish as normal, and you do not need to go to any special measures to get rid of them, like you may have initially thought. But regardless of whether or not you think you might have been in contact with a Covid-19 patient, you must always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after removing the mask.
However, if you, or someone you have been in contact with, has been displaying symptoms of Covid 19, then extra precautions must be taken. If this is the case, you need to separate the masks in to separate reusable bin bags, place them in to another bag, and put them aside for 72 hours before putting them into your black bag for collection. This will help to prevent the spread of the disease to others.
Finally, you must also remember to throw your masks away in a bin, rather than littering them on the streets. This sounds obvious, but the amount of Covid-related litter is becoming a huge problem; with masks and gloves being found on pavements, in parks, and many other places where people have disposed of them incorrectly. This is a cause for concern, not only from a safety perspective, as this is how the virus can easily be spread, but it also raises an important environmental issue too, especially as an increasing number of masks are being found washed up on beaches; which could have huge long term effects on our oceans and marine wildlife.
Although they are cheap and convenient, there are many cons to wearing single use face masks; they are bad for the environment, they cannot be recycled; the list goes on. Although they are cheap at unit value, if you continue to buy them then the cost will eventually add up, especially as you must replace them every single time you use them. There is no certainty about when this pandemic will come to an end, which could result in hundreds of masks needing to be purchased by one individual alone.
However, you can eliminate all of these worries and concerns altogether, by opting for reusable masks. Reusable masks can be washed and worn many times, meaning that you only need one or two to last you through the entire pandemic. Also, if you wash them in hot water (around 60 degrees), this will kill any Covid-19 particles which may have been transmitted on to the mask during your daily outing. You can purchase your reusable masks online, or even get creative and make one yourself.
An investment in a good, quality, reusable mask can help you make a lot of savings; namely on your pocket, your health and the environment.