Protect yourself, your community and your environment with a reusable face mask
As we navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to not only wear a face mask, but to be aware of the waste that masks and other PPE (personal protective equipment) can create. According to UN News, it’s estimated that, “around 75 per cent of used masks, as well as other pandemic-related waste, will end up in landfills, or floating in the sea,” which can take hundreds of years to break down, causing a massive, harmful impact to our planet.
Masks can contain bacteria and viruses, which can be a health hazard to both people and animals. As well, wildlife can get caught in the straps of discarded masks, like this seagull whose legs got entangled in a mask that wasn't disposed of properly.
Although single-use masks are popular—as they are the most affordable and easiest option—there are many sustainable and reusable cloth masks on the market which have a far less negative impact on the environment. You just have to wash them after every use either by hand or in the machine (check out the CDC's website to learn how to properly clean your mask).
Here are six reusable fabric face masks we love…
1. The People’s Mask
This Toronto brand creates breathable, multi-layered masks in all sorts of trendy designs—from bright colours to even gold sequins. Best of all, the products are heat-resistant, sustainable and can be customized for bulk orders.
2. JC Masks
Vancouver’s JC Masks makes non-medical face masks using various fabrics, such as cotton, hemp and tencel, for added protection and breathability. They are one of the first companies to use a 3-D modelling system to ensure proper sizing for customers. A portion of sales goes towards local charities, such as Hogan’s Alley, and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
3. Olive and Splash
Known for using eco-friendly materials, this Toronto company has turned its focus to making non-medical-grade face masks from bamboo, which is 99.8 percent antibacterial and great for sensitive skin. Plus, the fabric is stretchy which allows for lots of breathing room while you remain protected and protect others.
4. House of Nonie
Toronto brand Nonie’s sustainable face masks are created with a certified SMS fabric that provides a 99.9 percent barrier protection against germs, as well as pouch to insert your own filter. The designs are simple, fashionable, and made with high-quality cotton which won’t break down even after multiple washes.
As part of its zero-waste initiative, Arraei has partnered with Boheme Goods to create reusable face masks made with natural fibres. Customers can select from a wide range of colours, as well as two different material compositions that include hemp, spandex, lyocell, and organic cotton. Plus, the Vancouver brand will donate a mask with every order.
Based in Vancouver, Bellantoni makes comfortable, eco-friendly face masks using reclaimed materials, such as hemp-organic cotton. All the fabrics are woven for a secure fit, and the pleated masks come with a pouch in the centre so you can insert a filter of your choice.
What to do if you see masks lying around
Bring it to the attention of your local MLA or city council so that governments can spread further awareness about disposing of PPE correctly. As much as it may bother you, never touch a mask that is lying around. If you see an animal in distress due to incorrectly disposed products, call your local wildlife rescue immediately so they can safely step in.