Let’s reuse to protect people and the planet!

With COVID-19 fundamentally altering how we can safely interact with the world around us for the foreseeable future, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has become part of our daily lives, as recommended by public health experts. However, if everyone in the general public were to wear a disposable mask every day for a year, we’d have 3 trillion masks to dispose of.

Disposable masks are composed of non-biodegradable and non-recyclable dense thermoplastics. Once discarded, they become an alarming health and environmental hazard. You’ve likely witnessed soiled disposable masks appearing on the streets of our towns and cities and ending up on shorelines and in our oceans.

Single-use masks and gloves are simply not a viable option to protect our long-term health and the planet. As we go about our daily lives, it is imperative we commit to simple steps to reuse, based on science.

We request your full attention as we demonstrate the following safety tips for your next trip outside your home. 

Maintain a minimum physical distance of at least 1 metre from others when at all possible. 

Health experts say washing hands with soap and water helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. On the contrary, single-use plastic gloves do not contribute to a safer environment, as they are often the source of cross-contamination and contribute to a false sense of security. 

Reusable masks should be used in daily interactions by the general public. Surgical masks should be left for health or frontline workers and for the vulnerable population such as people over 60. You will find this and other safety information on the card below.

For many, a reusable mask has become part of a daily routine. Don’t forget it when you are leaving your house!

#breakfreefromplastic members are also leading other initiatives to reduce the use of disposable PPE, and encourage widespread adoption of reusable masks. You can explore these member-led initiatives here:  

City to Sea: How to make your own reusable mask

City to Sea: Keeping you and our oceans safe

Greenpeace:  Make a Reusable Mask toolkit

For more information on protective measures to take during the pandemic, you can follow the simple science recommendations here: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on cloth masks

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to wear masks

World Health Organization on fabric masks

Wolrd Health Organization on use of gloves 

World Health Organization video recommendations

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