COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our world. It has made us realise how necessary personal protection equipment (PPE), like gloves, masks, and sanitizers, are. As a result, the use of face masks has become the ‘new normal’ in Australia, but many are still not using disposable gloves as they should. If you have been wearing masks already, it is time to invest some more in disposable gloves for the best protection.
How Do Gloves Protect You?
In a way, gloves complement your mask to offer the best protection for your health and those around you. Masks keep the pathogens in the air from entering your mouth and nose. Meanwhile, the gloves give an added layer of safety; they keep you from coming in direct contact with pathogens that spread via hand contact, including the coronavirus, norovirus, E. Coli, MSRA. Gloves and masks together go a long way in protecting you from various infections and illnesses like gastroenteritis, common cold, influenza, chickenpox, meningitis, and hepatitis A.
When to Use Your Gloves?
Wondering when to wear your gloves? Unlike masks that are needed when you interact with other people, gloves are essential when you have to interact with both people and surfaces. Here are some of the instances where you need gloves to protect you along with your face mask:
1. When You Step Out of the House
The surfaces outside your home are teeming with various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and germs, especially if you live in one of the major cities of Australia. When you touch these surfaces, they may get into your body and infect you. A pair of gloves, thus, keeps you from coming in direct contact with such pathogens that are usually found on surfaces like the shopping card, ATM, doorbells, door handles, car doors, railings, etc.
2. When You are Caring for Someone Infected
When someone is sick, they are spreading infectious pathogens via their breath, sneezes, coughs, and even touch. So, everything in their quarantine room is infectious for you. To protect yourself, you should always wear disposable gloves when handling anything that comes out of their room, including used utensils and clothes.
3. When Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space
Your home may seem safe from the coronavirus, but it can still have various pathogens lying in the dirty corners of your home, like under the bookshelf, behind the utensils, on the patio, etc. So, you should wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting your home. Additionally, disposable gloves also protect your skin from the harsh chemicals of the disinfectants.
4. When Working Your Job
Australia is finally opening up and businesses are resuming their operations. So, if you have to go to work now, you should wear gloves, especially if you have to interact with several individuals throughout the day. This will keep you protected from pathogens that other people may carry, while also keeping them safe from the pathogens that you may be exposed to already.
Are Disposable Gloves safe for the Environment?
An apt question. While discussing disposable gloves, we must also discuss their environmental impact. Thanks to COVID-19, our plastic footprint has significantly increased due to increasing PPE disposal. And one of the leading factors to such pollutions is conventional disposable gloves like vinyl, latex, and nitrile gloves.
Vinyl gloves are bad as they are synthetic based gloves made of PVC and plasticizers; they take hundreds of years to decompose. On the other hand, latex gloves are biodegradable only to a certain extent; they are made of natural rubber but mixed with several other plasticizers, so even they are not eco-friendly. Lastly, nitrile gloves are also made of synthetic butadiene rubber that is more resistant to breakdown, making them non-biodegradable.
Here’s how these gloves are bad for our environment:
- Since disposable gloves, including latex gloves, are not biodegradable, they may take hundreds of years to decompose into the soil, posing a threat to the environment.
- The extra pressure on waste management due to COVID-19 is causing the gloves to end up directly in the landfills, where they either enter the soil or are burnt. When they are burnt at the dumps, they release a lot of toxic greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
- Many used disposable gloves are also ending up in the oceans, where they are threatening the local marine ecosystem. The marine organisms mistake them for food and consume them, which can potentially kill them. There have been many instances in Australia where tons of PPE debris has washed ashore.
- The gloves manufacturers are also choosing not to recycle used gloves since using virgin plastic and rubber to produce fresh gloves is much cheaper and easier than the recycling process. Recycling would heighten the costs of manufacturing, and, in turn, raise retail prices.
- The manufacturing process is also quite harmful as it releases toxic chemicals benzene and vinyl hydrochloride into the environment. This is made worse as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a 40% escalation in disposable gloves production to meet the rising demands of PPE products both in healthcare fields and civilian retails.
What’s the Solution?
How can you use gloves to protect yourself without harming the environment? This sounds like a paradox. It doesn’t have to be. Many manufacturers in Australia are aware of the massive environmental impact their conventional non-eco-friendly disposable gloves are causing. To tackle that, they are now innovating new types of eco-friendly disposable gloves that are eco-friendly to produce and can biodegrade within a few months.
You might think that these new biodegradable gloves Australian manufacturers are producing may not be as safe as conventional gloves that are in use for decades. You’d be surprised to know that these eco-friendly biodegradable gloves are just as protective. They offer similar protection levels as that of latex gloves against chemicals and pathogens. And they also provide excellent dexterity, comfort, and textile feel; they act as a second skin on your hand.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for our world; it has caused millions of deaths around the world, affected the global economy, and put almost all countries into lockdowns. However, the silver lining of the pandemic is that it has proved there is still time to recover our environment. Amid COVID-19 lockdown, the water canals in Venice cleared up, and the local marine life returned! Now, it’s time to clear up our earth of our carbon and plastic footprint. Let’s protect ourselves without harming the environment by using biodegradable gloves.
Stay tuned to know more on keeping yourself safe and reducing your carbon footprint.