Disposable, non-medical face masks are everywhere these days, including cluttering up our garbage cans and littering our streets. Easy to find and cheap to buy, one-use masks have become a go-to option for many. But because they cannot be recycled, once discarded they pose not only a potential health threat but also risks for wildlife and the ecosystem.
If every person in the United Kingdom wore a disposable mask daily for a year, that would create 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste and pose ten times more climate change impact than opting for reusable options, according to findings by the Plastic Waste Hub . The Hub’s study also found waste can be lowered by 95 per cent if reusable masks are used.
Canadian emergency room physician, Dr. Peter Rawlek, knows a thing or two about masks. And he says reusable ones, the layered cloth variety, are just as good, if not better than disposable ones — without the ecologic impact.
“There is no excuse for someone not to wear a mask,” he says. “Wearing one is a message that says, ‘I care about being socially responsible and protecting others from my secretions.’”
The goget.fit app developer says making masks part of any gym kit can help limit the spread of COVID-19 and it can also kick a workout up a notch by requiring just a bit more effort by wearers.
“All the studies show there is not a decrease in the amount to oxygen you get. But if you have a perception that it does, look at it as a way to have an increased training effect,” Rawlek says.
“Consider it saving the drive to go up to the top of the mountain to train.”
Some reusable masks come with special filters but Rawlek says not to bother.
“Unless you are working in a gymnasium where there are noxious fumes, you don’t need it and then you better have goggles on, too,” he says.
Make sure you wear your mask properly with a snug fit over the nose, which usually entails some built-in wire and a good fit along the rest of the face. Don’t touch it once it’s on and if you need to wipe sweat off your face or readjust your glasses use a towel dedicated to that task rather than your hands. Wear it, wash it (in soapy hot water), hang to dry and repeat.
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