Did you step on a dirty, used mask while taking a walk to clear your mind? You are not alone.

This year has been difficult for everyone, both mentally and financially. However, it has not been easy on our planet as well.

While global carbon dioxide emissions decreased by -6.52 per cent, demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is skyrocketing. Over the next year, the federal government predicts that 63,000 tons of PPE will end up as waste in Canada.

Why is this a problem?

PPE is made of plastic materials like polypropylene, polyester, nitrile, vinyl and latex.

The Canadian Science Policy Centre said PPE is “usually incinerated at medical waste facilities where tightly regulated waste management protocols avoid environmental spillage.”

However, there has also been widespread public use of PPE and littering, which has had a negative environmental impact.

And it isn’t just happening in Canada.

PPE around the world

Environmentalist Dr. Binish Desai, known as the recycling man of India, wants to change this. He is set on a mission to install PPE recycling bins across the world. While he is working with the Indian government to install these bins in Indian cities and towns, he is also reaching out to countries like Brazil, the USA and Canada.

Desai is collecting PPE and converting them into eco bricks. He says until such recycling bins are installed, everyone should dispose of their masks separately in a bag.

Until Canada works on recycling PPE, here’s what you can do to reduce waste!

DIY Reusable Mask and Gloves

It is free, creative and gives you a chance to create what suits you best. Not to mention, you get compliments on your artistic endeavour.

Also, as a student, it can be costly to buy masks and gloves; and as an environmentally conscious individual, one always prefers to move to a reusable alternative.

The Government of Canada recommends fabric masks and gives you DIY steps to make yourself one with common household items, like an old t-shirt or a bandana.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe the safest way to wash your reusable mask.

Reach out to authorities

Contact your local authorities, people who can bring change and request them to install recycling bins for PPE kits. 

Ontario’s Ministry of Health specifies that PPE such as masks and gloves should be disposed of in garbage and not recycling bins. However, it is necessary to build a model separately for PPE waste and it is possible when we demand that from people in power.

Spread the word!

Students have the power of unity within their community. The student community holds the knowledge and perseverance that is capable of bringing change. 

Spread the word, knowledge and encourage people of all ages to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

Once we’re back on campus, contact your school authority and sustainability office. Work with them and offer possible solutions. What is it that we can do together to make a world that’s safe for both us and the planet?

Do you have more ideas and solutions? Are you working on a project yourself? Tweet about it and tag us @SustainHumber!

3 thoughts on “

  1. I see old masks on the floor on a regular basis. It makes me quite sad. I understand that single-use PPE may be necessary in the medical field but for most people, I think a reusable mask works well. I’ve been using them since the beginning. It reduces waste and has the benefit of being able to get a stylized one, which can be seen as a complement to your outfit rather than a single colored mask which will be immediately thrown out 🙂


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