How to safely dispose contaminated gloves, masks, wipes and more

April 16, 2020 by  
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Our new normal, the novel coronavirus pandemic, has caused society to take up more rigorous hygiene regimens. Unfortunately, personal protective equipment like masks and gloves quickly become contaminated, and they shouldn’t be tossed carelessly — especially not littered in parking lots, where they are destined to end up harming the environment. Because the pathogen causing COVID-19 can survive for hours or even days on different surfaces, observing appropriate disposal protocol is crucial. So, here are some recommendations, which are both safer for public health and better for our planet, on what to do with used gloves, masks, disinfectants, wipes, paper towels and more. Gloves Those who venture out shopping for essentials during this pandemic are often sporting disposable gloves. But wearing the same gloves from place to place or using your phone while wearing gloves just spreads germs. It’s important to regularly change gloves if you are wearing them. Wondering about proper methods to remove contaminated gloves from your hands? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers an illustrative tutorial page. After safely removing your gloves, you can dispose of them in a trash can. Do not be the person that throws them on the ground! Of course, the Waste Advantage Magazine recommends bagging used gloves before throwing them away for safe disposal. Some gloves can normally be recycled, but during the pandemic, it is best to throw gloves away to keep everyone safe. To reduce waste, you can also simply wash your hands with hot, soapy water after running an errand. If you visit multiple stores, wash your hands after each one. Masks Another prevalent countermeasure against COVID-19’s spread is wearing masks, for which the World Health Organization (WHO) offers downloadable tutorials. WHO recommends to “discard [the single-use mask] immediately in a closed bin.” Related: Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats Traditionally, masks are supposed to be discarded frequently. But with the current shortages, many people are making their own with cotton and/or wearing the same mask for long periods of time. If you have paper masks, they should be carefully removed and thrown out after each use. They cannot safely be reused or recycled. N95 masks should be reserved for medical staff only. If you do have N95 masks, check with your state’s public health department, your city’s health department or local hospitals for donating procedures. Have a cloth mask? The CDC offers advice on how to make, wear and wash cloth masks. After each wear, wash cloth masks in a washing machine before reuse. Hot water and regular laundry detergent should do the trick at cleaning these masks, and you can also add color-safe bleach as an extra precaution. Disinfectants, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer Household cleaning products and hand sanitizers are being used much more than usual. So what should you do with all of the packaging? Packaging can be appropriately discarded in either recycle bins or trash cans, depending on the labels. Related: How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home As for sponges and scouring pads, those should be thrown in the trash. For containers of specialty cleaners, like oven cleaner, check with your local waste management company for advice on how to safely dispose of these items. According to Earth911 , it is important to read the labels of cleaning items for specific disposal instructions. “For example, many antibacterial cleaning products contain triclosan, which could contribute to the antibiotic resistance of bacteria, so it should not be poured down your drain.” Wipes Despite marketing’s ploy to pass off the ever-popular wipe as ‘flushable,’ it isn’t. Many municipal plumbing systems were not designed to handle flushed wipes. While many people stocked up on wipes after the toilet paper supply ran dry, disinfectant wipes have also flown off the shelves. But Green Matters warns against flushing both ‘flushable’ and disinfectant wipes. “The only thing (besides bodily fluids) that you should be flushing down the toilet is all that toilet paper you stocked up on.” RecycleNow also explains, “Baby wipes, cosmetic wipes, bathroom cleaning wipes and moist toilet tissues are not recyclable and are not flushable, either, even though some labels say they are. They should always be placed in your rubbish bin.” Paper towels and other paper products Many paper products are labeled as ‘made from recycled materials .’ Accordingly, many consumers believe paper towels and napkins can be chucked into recycling bins. However, Business Insider cautions otherwise. Why? Soiled paper towels and napkins ruin whole batches of recyclables. Besides, if you purchased recycled paper towels, their “fibers are too short to be used again,” meaning they can’t be recycled, even if they are clean. If you used paper towels with chemical cleaners or if they are greasy, they should go into the trash. If you are sick, the trash can is again the best place for used paper products. Otherwise, paper products that are not chlorine-bleached can be composted . Images via Inhabitat, Unsplash and Pixabay

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How to safely dispose contaminated gloves, masks, wipes and more

Should your family give up paper towels?

January 1, 2017 by  
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Paper towels are incredibly handy for cleaning up messes and wrapping leftover food. Unfortunately, buying paper towels isn’t cost-effective or eco-friendly. Over on Inhabitat’s sister site, Inhabitots , is an argument to persuade you and your family to quit using paper towels—even recycled paper towels. From statistics on the paper and pulp industry’s waste and negative effects on the environment to the problem paper towels cause in landfills , the article delves deep into many good points for ditching paper towels.

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Should your family give up paper towels?

Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

Poll: Vote for and Commit to the Next Double Impact Challenge

July 25, 2011 by  
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How would you make your wedding eco-friendly? Double Impact is going into it’s sixth week and that means we need your help again. So far, TreeHugger readers have helped to pick all sorts of Double Impact challenges, from opening windows for cooling to using reusable cloths instead of paper towels. This week we are celebrating wedding season by thinking of ways to make your big day greener. So, which… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Poll: Vote for and Commit to the Next Double Impact Challenge

Beyond Soda Taxes, Teaching Cooking Crucial Part of Building Healthy American Diet

July 25, 2011 by  
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photo: cookbookman17 / Creative Commons The New York Times ‘ chief food opinionator Mark Bittman has weighed in on a topic that frequents TreeHugger’s page: Taxing sugary beverages , ending the de facto subsidies for unhealthy foods we’ve currently got in place, and the resulting health benefits of doing so. Bittman’s overview of those benefits is compelling for su… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Beyond Soda Taxes, Teaching Cooking Crucial Part of Building Healthy American Diet

Drought Brings Texans Falling Water Well Levels & Sinking Foundations

July 25, 2011 by  
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Foundation crack. Image credit:flickr, Micheal Derr ( ewige ) How dry is it it Texas? It is so dry that water-well levels are noticeably dropping. In fact, groundwater levels are sinking enough that, according to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram , “The dip in groundwater levels is forcing many rural homeowners who depend on residential wells to spend $500 to $1,000 to have their pumps lowered or, worse, $7,500 or more to have deeper wells drilled.” And that’s … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Drought Brings Texans Falling Water Well Levels & Sinking Foundations

Stop the Paper Towels Competition: Design the Next PeopleTowel and Win $500!

February 25, 2011 by  
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USE YOUR DESIGN SKILLS TO SAVE ENOUGH TREES TO COVER ALASKA & YOU COULD WIN $500! Years of TV ads have taught us that if we spill something, the first thing we should do is reach for that quicker picker upper – the paper towel. But at what cost? Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the United States alone and in the production of one ton of paper towels, 17 whole trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed, contributing to deforestation, water pollution and global warming.

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Stop the Paper Towels Competition: Design the Next PeopleTowel and Win $500!

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