The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to reexamine many of the processes we take for granted. For the first time, we asked ourselves, “How do I eliminate germs from my groceries,” or “How can I raise a family without leaving the house?” Many of us probably never expected that we would need to learn how to throw away a face mask.
Why so Careful?
Considerate people have two objectives when they throw away their single-use face masks. They want to make sure the waste is handled using eco-friendly methods, and they want to protect the people handling their trash from germ exposure. Waste management employees took on additional threats to their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. We owe it to them, as responsible citizens, to limit the chance of spreading COVID-19. Also, as animals that live on Earth, we owe it to the creatures and wildlife of this planet to protect them from potentially harmful waste.
How To Throw Away the Mask
Environmentalists all around the world have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in littered face masks. Just by throwing away your mask in a garbage bin, you are already on the right side of this fight against medical waste.
The first step, of course, is to remove the mask. When removing a single-use face mask, you want to be gentle so as not to disturb any potential contaminants on the cloth. Be careful only to grip the mask by its straps—you want to avoid getting your saliva on your hands, face, or clothing.
The next step in how to throw away a face mask is to fold the mask and place it in two plastic Ziplock baggies, one inside of the other. This will protect waste management workers from direct contact with a potentially contaminated item. If you believe you may have COVID-19, or if you were recently exposed to someone with the disease, make a note on the baggie with the words, “RISK OF CONTAMINATION.” You should throw away the baggies and the mask in the garbage, not the recycling.
Wash Your Hands
Always make sure to wash your hands after you throw away your mask. It could be very easy for a droplet of saliva to come off the mask and fall on your hands during the removal process. To avoid any spread of the disease, hand washing is a necessary step.