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Mask Up, PA, and Leave No Trace: How To Dispose of Masks and Gloves Properly

January 14, 2021 12:00 PM

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A mask littered near a riverLet’s talk masks, PA. We know you have heard it a lot but wearing masks to protect each other as we work together to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is extremely important.

As we look towards a better and brighter 2021, it’s important that we continue to work together! We are blessed with many wonderful outdoor spaces here in Pennsylvania to enjoy. These spaces are vital to our mental and physical health, especially in times like these.

So wear your mask, and when you take it off, please dispose of it properly! That means in the trash! The last thing anyone wants to see when they are out enjoying all the beauty that Pennsylvania has to offer is litter – and let’s face it – littered masks and gloves are full of germs and that is extra gross and unhealthy.

A boy walks past a littered mask

Like other litter, masks and gloves can also end up in our waterways, impacting the aquatic ecosystems in Pennsylvania, polluting our streams and rivers, and ultimately, polluting our oceans. 

So keep these tips in mind as you mask up and let’s all get through this together!

Wear a cloth mask. Cloth masks are reusable when washed properly and they help reduce waste.

A mask littered near a streamIf you do wear a disposable mask, dispose of it properly in the trash. So if you drop it, pick it up! If there are no trash cans nearby, take it home, put it in your trash can, and be sure the bag is tied tightly when you take the trash out so the wind doesn’t blow it away. It’s really not that hard to not be a litterbug!

Disposable masks and gloves are not recyclable, and if you put them in the recycling, you are creating a source of contamination that can cost others time and money. So again, just put them in the trash.

Masks and gloves are not flushable. They do not break down like toilet paper. If you flush masks and gloves, you can clog your toilet, cause plumbing problems, and cause problems at wastewater treatment plants. Make sure that the only thing getting flushed down your toilets is toilet paper.

These are simple things that we can all do to protect each other, and our environment. Mask up, PA, and leave no trace!

Litter near a storm drain

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