Masks — the one accessory that we literally can’t leave the house without these days. But reaching for disposable masks on the daily is bound to have undesirable consequences on our environment. Surgical grade masks, unsurprisingly, are made up of several layers of plastic in order to filter out the droplets. While certainly effective when coupled with adequate hygiene practices, a mask a day may keep the doctor away but also has detrimental effects on Mother Earth’s health with the amount of plastic consumption and waste.How are reusable masks more environmentally friendly than disposable masks?
Some may argue that the carbon footprint of producing and using textile masks made from say, cotton, is similar or even higher when compared to the production of one disposable mask. This may be true, but if we take a closer look, it’s not one disposable mask that we’re against. When considering the everyday usage of single-use masks, it all adds up in the trash, leaving a disproportionately higher environmental footprint than when using a reusable mask, even if we took into account washing or disinfecting the latter. As sustainability becomes an increasingly important issue we ought to concern ourselves with, reusable masks are the way to go as we press on in the foreseeably long fight against COVID-19.But the burning question remains: are reusable masks safe?
Textile masks can often be brushed off as a fashion statement, and it should be well noted that they are not made to substitute medical grade masks, nor should they be confused with N95 respirators and surgical masks. Single layer masks would be ineffective in keeping tiny, contagious droplets out should they come into contact with the fabric. In order for reusable masks to be effective, using double layered, tightly woven fabric such as cotton and linen are best at providing adequate protection and would aid the wearer in avoiding catching and spreading bacteria and viruses. An additional filter insert will further maximise one’s safety, and of course we cannot forget about the importance of donning the mask properly; worn correctly, it should cover both your nose and mouth.Choice of fabric for reusable masks
In choosing the fabric blend of reusable masks, cotton is preferred over polyester: the former is softer, more comfortable and importantly, breathable! Cotton’s hypoallergenic properties also ensure that it doesn’t irritate the skin, meaning you won’t have to worry about breaking out after a whole day of wearing your mask. In terms of sustainability, cotton reigns over polyester as it is more biodegradable as well.The Importance of Fit: The Yotto Reusable Face Mask ($12) has an Asian fit, is unisex, and is suitable for all adults. Reference measurements were initially taken from the generic surgical masks, from which a few samples of different sizes were produced.
Lastly, how should one properly clean and disinfect a reusable mask?
Ideally, you should hand wash or machine wash them with warm water and detergent, before drying them in a dryer. If you are sunning or air drying your mask, do remember to iron them before use to kill the pathogens.
Sustainable Storage: Instead of turning to single-use plastics like zip-bloc bags, the Yotto Reusable Face Mask ($12) comes with a convenient, washable bag that allows you to keep your used mask separated and organised in your bag, or at home.
Stay safe, and mask up the right way.
- All you need to know about reusable masks, is an article written by Joyce Lim for The #YottoCare Series.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Joyce, a 23-year-old fresh graduate from NUS Communications and New Media, is a fashion and beauty enthusiast as well as a fervent supporter of the arts, especially in music.
The simple quote "Have courage, and be kind" by Cinderella is one she tries to live by as she constantly strives to seize opportunities that open up her eyes, mind and heart to the world. She’d stumbled into writing at one of her many summer internships, and has loved it ever since - she finds it extremely gratifying to be able to connect with her readers through food, arts and lifestyle content. Outside of writing, she loves swimming, yoga, and cooking wholesome meals; she does, however, have a weak spot for granola, yogurt and all things cinnamon. At Yacht 21, she’s excited to explore writing not just about fashion and styling tips, but also about introspective topics that'll enable us to grow and lead more mindful, fulfilling and sustainable lives as a community.
Insta account: @_joycelim