Reusable masks and gloves protect people and earth

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

 Greenpeace USA
The public should be using reusable face masks and performing routine laundering at home. PHOTO: ImageCollab

Health experts around the world endorsed the use of well-made reusable masks or gloves that are properly sanitized to protect the environment from pollution and our communities from the COVID-19 pandemic on 18 July. As countries continue to face shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), experts encourage the public to practice hygiene practices like handwashing and wearing reusable masks, while leaving medical-grade and single-use PPE for healthcare and essential workers. John Hocevar, oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA, says according to a study in environmental science and technology, the world is using an estimated 129 billion disposable masks and 65 billion disposable gloves each month during the pandemic. He says the study finds not only has this led to widespread environmental contamination, but it also poses a significant public health risk as this waste serves as a vector for the virus.

“We cannot protect human health without a healthy environment and the hundreds of billions of throwaway plastic masks and gloves we are using come at an enormous cost, particularly for communities of color near landfills and incinerators, where it is dumped or burned. We need to protect ourselves from COVID today in ways that will not endanger us to other deadly diseases in the future,” says Hocevar.

Dr. Jodi Sherman, ass