Eco-friendly PPE

We are all doing our best to stay safe in the current pandemic. The good news is that it is possible to protect yourself and the planet by using environmentally friendly options for your PPE.

How does it work?

In the first seven days of the action, you’re going to learn all about the great green options that are available for PPE, and how you can use them to keep yourself safe at home and while you’re out and about.

Make sure you’re up to date with all the official stuff too. Coronavirus safety requirements vary from country to country and are subject to change, so check in with your governmental website for current advice. In some places it is mandatory to wear FFP2 masks in public. The World Health Organisation also has a good overview page here.

Why should I use eco-friendly PPE?

  • Reduce waste for landfill and incineration
  • Stop using gels with potentially harmful ingredients
  • Refill hand sanitisers and handwash to reduce plastic waste
  • Save money with reusables and refills

If every person in the UK used one disposable surgical mask each day for a year, this would create over 128,000 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic waste (66,000 tonnes of contaminated waste and 57,000 tonnes of plastic packaging)

SOURCE: UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub – The Environmental dangers of employing single-use face masks as part of a COVID-19 exit strategy

Poorly biodegradable liquid polymers such as acrylates copolymer or carbomer are also prevalent and found everywhere… Once in the environment, they are also poorly biodegradable and remain for years in our ecosystem with unknown consequences.

SOURCE: Ethical Consumer: Microbeads – The hidden plastics in your cosmetics

What are the alternative options?

Reusable fabric masks

In most settings, a washable fabric mask will provide good protection. Look for triple-layer masks made with organic fabrics or remnants. Support local makers, or learn how to make your own. Join the Big Community Sew to find instructions and advice for making masks.

Refills and plastic-free options for hand sanitiser

Hand sanitiser gels often contain ingredients such as synthetic polymers that have an unknown environmental impact. As long as your hand rub has a high alcohol content (over 75% isopropyl alcohol or 80% ethanol) it doesn’t need any other ingredients such as thickeners or perfumes. Save money by buying in bulk and refilling any pocket-sized bottles that you already have. You can buy vegan, organic hand sanitiser for refills online here

Zero-waste solid soap or refillable hand wash

Say goodbye to single-use plastic-pump bottles by using solid soap or refilling your existing bottles at a zero-waste shop. If you haven’t got anywhere nearby, these five-litre bottles from Bio-D are vegan, cruelty-free and made with 100% recycled plastic.

Recyclable or compostable disposable masks and gloves

If you need to wear disposable PPE for your work, or to care for loved ones, try to find a greener option such as these recyclable masks, compostable masks or biodegradable visors.

Washable wipes and antibacterial sprays

There’s no need for single-use wipes when you switch to a reusable alternative. For personal wipes check out these Imse Vimse multipacks in our shop. For cleaning around the house or at work, use a refillable spray and a washable cloth. The only exception to this is if you are cleaning surfaces used by someone with Covid-19 symptoms. If so, please follow these guidelines.

Recycle your PPE

Terracycle offer a paid-for recycling service for all PPE. In the UK it starts from £132 for a small returnable box which would fit A LOT of masks in it! Why not ask your employer to sign up or sponsor a box? Find out more here.  They also run a free recycling service for disposable gloves, including nitrile, vinyl latex and polyethylene (domestic use only). 

We’re here at Ailuna to help make it easier for you. Ask a friend to join you on the action – and remember to check in with the Ailuna Community to ask for advice and share your wins!