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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Mask Eco-Disposal: How to Dispose of Antiviral Wear

Eco-Friendly Antiviral Mask


Discarded face masks and gloves littering streets, beaches, parks and parking lots are a sad sight of the times, creating eyesores and more importantly, major contamination risks to pick up and discard. With 88 percent of the world’s population living in countries that have required or advised use of face coverings, disposable face masks number in the billions, especially the commonplace, single-use polypropylene variety. Along with disposable gloves and sanitary wipes, they are clogging sewers and waterways worldwide and showing up in fish bellies and on ocean floors.

What Not to Recycle

Recycling, the go-to strategy for environmentally conscious citizens, is unfortunately not a good option. Even in ordinary times, local recyclers won’t accept surgical masks and latex gloves because they jam machinery. Some dedicated providers box up used face masks and gloves and send them to TerraCycle, where they are sorted manually and sustainably recycled. The cost for a small box is a hefty $148; mindbodygreen suggests asking grocery stores or retailers to stock some for the community to use.

Instead of recycling, the World Health Organization recommends throwing single-use masks, gloves and wipes into a covered trash can or bin immediately after use so they are handled as regular trash. Ideally, they should be put in a resealable plastic bag first in consideration of frontline sanitation workers that can become ill from handling virus-infected materials. No mask, glove or wipe should be flushed down a toilet.

Homemade Solutions

For masks, the eco-solution that harbors the lowest carbon dioxide footprint is one made of cloth that is machine-washed and dried after each use at a high temperature or washed by hand in a bleach solution (five tablespoons per gallon of water). University of Chicago researchers found certain fabrics filter out viral aerosol particles almost as effectively as the medical N-95 mask: a layer of a tightly woven cotton sheet combined with two layers of polyester-spandex chiffon, natural silk or flannel, or simply a cotton quilt with cotton-polyester batting. See the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions's (CDC) instructions for using sew and no-sew masks, and many DIY videos can be found on YouTube using T-shirts, socks and napkins.

Another good eco-strategy is to buy sustainable face masks made from recycled or organic materials. In lieu of recycling to help the planet, a donation can be made to an eco-organization that deals with plastic waste, such as Plastic Pollution Coalition or Ocean Conservancy.
5 Top Tips to Finding Your Next Doctor

1 Keep an Open Mind! Healthcare has come a long way. Today, you have access to practitioners that branch outside of traditional medicine and aim to identify the root causes of conditions while using alternative treatments that may help you get the relief you need. Just because it’s not a pill, doesn’t make it pseudoscience.

2 Build Your Health Care Team. There is no one doctor that can be the be-all-end-all for your health needs. Be sure to have a team of practitioners with different “lenses” and areas of expertise who will treat the root cause and not just the symptom(s).

3   Environment Influences Healing. Health is multi-factorial. Your mental and emotional environment plays a pivotal role in your healing potential. Your doctors and their staff should create an office atmosphere filled with positivity so you can get the most out of your care.

4 Your Story Matters.  Before you begin any treatment, be sure to have a comprehensive consultation to discuss your health concerns. Find practitioners who welcome questions and will take the time to listen and treat you with respect.

5 Report of Findings. When it comes to our health, we often make decisions without understanding the risk versus benefits. Knowledge is an important part of the healing process and is essential to make conscious, informed health decisions. Find practitioners who take the time to explain their exam findings and the recommendations for treatment in ways that make sense to you.

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