Although Covid-19 vaccines are being administered around the world, the necessity of face masks will be with us for an undetermined amount of time. Medical experts are still unsure about viral spread post-vaccination, so it is advised that even those who have been vaccinated continue to wear a mask to protect those who still haven’t received their jab. The CDC currently recommends both non-medical disposable masks and cloth masks for use outside of healthcare settings.
While non-medical disposable masks are an attractive option as you don’t have to deal with laundering, they are wreaking havoc on the environment. Like many disposable items, discarded masks are ending up in our oceans, polluting them and causing harm to animals who call the sea home. Take a look at this poor gull whose feet were wrapped up in the ear loops of a disposable face mask. When I first saw this image, I couldn’t help but be reminded of plastic rings that hold together canned drinks. Surely we all know by now to cut up the plastic rings prior to throwing them out; this same sentiment should be applied to your disposable face mask. If you must use a disposable face mask, please take an extra 5 seconds and cut the ear loops prior to discarding it, because you never know where your mask may end up after it’s tossed in the trash. You could save a life with this one easy step!
The CDC says that the most effective cloth masks are breathable—yet tightly woven—as well as multi-layered. They recommend avoiding masks with vents as these allow particles to escape. (It is also still advised to reserve surgical masks and respirators for medical personnel.) So taking into consideration these recommendations, as well as the environmental impacts of disposable masks, a reusable cloth mask is your best bet. When choosing a cloth mask, there are a plethora of sustainable options available. Better yet, you don’t have to break the bank when purchasing an eco-friendly mask, and some companies even donate a portion of their proceeds to non-profits.
If you don’t have local mask makers in your area, check out these reusable, affordable and environmentally-friendly masks online. And be sure to consistently check in with the CDC to stay up to date with current COVID-19 information.
- Claims to be the most sustainable face mask on the planet; here’s why
- Tested in a world-class German laboratory with results showing 98% filtering efficiency against particles down to 0.3μm in size
- 5 layers
- UPF 50+ UV protection
- 1% of proceeds go to Healthy Seas
- Made from post-consumer recycled content
- Made in Germany with 100% renewable energy
- Recyclable at end of use – send it back to Eco Mask and they will take care of it
- Comes in compostable carbon negative packaging
- Crafted to CDC specifications
- Has a filter slot between layers
- Made from deadstock fabric: a blend of Hemp, Organic Cotton, Recycled Polyester, and TENCEL fabric
- Made responsibly at their apparel factory in China
- For each 3 pack purchased, one mask will be donated to Chosen 300 to benefit Philadelphia residents experiencing homelessness.
- Made from Organic Handkerchief Linen, this fabric uses French flax grown without harmful chemicals
- No filter pocket
- Made in the USA
- For every mask purchased, one is donated to an essential worker
- Made with organic cotton
- Double layered
- Has filter pocket
- Designed for working out
- Made from up-cycled activewear material
- Has filter pocket