• Patricia Tiscareno

Sustainable Face Masks to Protect You and Mother Earth

Updated: Apr 9

The ongoing pandemic is forcing the world to adapt to a new norm. New regulations are enforcing the use of face masks in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks serve to create a barrier limiting how far respiratory particles can travel into the air when a person coughs, talks, or sneezes. This means it lowers the chances of a COVID-19 carrier from transferring the virus to others.

It’s crazy to think that just a few months ago we didn't have access to facemasks as people overstocked and supply depleted. Thankfully facemasks are more accessible now, but we’re also experiencing a mass production of both reusable and non-reusable face coverings. As a result, this is generating mass waste due to non-sustainable production and single-use face masks that are often disposed of improperly.

Some masks, like the generic white/blue masks you can find at grocery stores, are single-use products that generate substantial waste. If you have the world's population using one to two face masks per day, it will create significant amounts of waste that will remain in landfills long after the pandemic is over. Surgical masks are plastic-based and water-resistant, oftentimes finding their way into the ocean pollution. These face masks then turn into marine plastic, enter food chains, and play a devastating effect on marine life. Not only do these single-use face masks harm the environment we call home, but they also endanger a section of the population as medical waste. City and frontline maintenance workers who clean this pollution risk their lives when they come in contact with these face masks because they serve as carriers of the virus and other harmful diseases like Hepatitis B and C.

Face masks are an important factor in disease control and help prevent us from touching our faces, possibly spreading any bacteria. This action protects ourselves and others, but who produces sustainable face masks that actually protect you and the environment around?

Who’s Actually Manufacturing Sustainable Face Masks?

Still debating whether to invest in a reusable face mask? Let us convince you. Fabric face coverings are reusable and eco-friendly. They are perfect to wear, wash, and reuse. When opting for a reusable face mask, you help prevent the disruption of medical-grade mask supplies. It's also wise to shop from brands making sustainable options because they often give back to medical communities or donate masks to those in need through a 1-for-1 model.

Here are a few different brands that offer sustainable face masks. It’s important to remember that reusable masks are not the same as medical-grade masks. However, these masks work towards the problem at hand: preventing the spread of diseases. In addition, they allow medical-grade masks to be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders who actually need it.

Christy Dawn

The Sustainable Mask ( $18 - $30)

Christy Dawn offers non-medical grade masks made out of sustainable deadstock fabric. They manufacture their products in different prints and colors, all coming from their factory in Los Angeles. These products come in 2 - packs ($18) and 5-packs ($30). For every 5- pack purchased, five masks are donated.

Groceries Apparel

Organic Cotton Face Mask 3pk ( $15)

Groceries Apparel is a California-based brand that only uses 100 percent GMO - free, recycled, and fair-trade materials. They donate 3 masks to essential workers for every 3-pack ($15) purchased. Their products come in multiple colors with options of both adult and children sizes. This brand focuses on producing products that give back and provide a living wage to their U.S. based team.

Selva Negra

Single Face Mask ($15)

Selva Negra makes 100% cotton face masks with elastic straps that go around your head. This allows for the mask to cover the entire nose and mouth without creating stress around the ears. The brand pledges to donate 5 masks to healthcare workers around the country for every 5 masks purchased. They offer masks in multiple colors and sizes ranging from kids to adults, and pay fair wages to their sewing mechanists.

Buck Mason

Anti- Microbial Prevention Face Mask 5-Pack ($20)

Buck Mason is manufacturing simple, sleek black face masks that are sold in both a 5-pack and 250-pack. Their inner layer is treated with an anti-microbial coating that lasts up to 30 washing cycles. They additionally offer bundles that are directly donated to medical communities across the U.S.

Hackwith Design House

Molded Mask with Elastic (With Filter Pocket) ($14)

Hackwith’s Molded Mask is lined with a soft 100% cotton material. The mask includes a pocket for a filter to be inserted, although they are not included. The products this brand produces are made to order to reduce waste. You can shop for multiple styles that are made from quality fabrics on their site. They also ship their products from their studio in Minnesota.

These are the perfect options if you’re looking for a way to protect yourself and give back amidst the ongoing pandemic. We hope this gave you some insights on the impact single-use face masks create on the environment.

Remember to wash your hands, use a face covering, and practice social distancing. Whether you decide to purchase a reusable face mask or decide to make your own, we want to hear about it. Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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