W hether we like it or not, facemasks have become a staple of our wardrobes, and it doesn’t look like they’re going away anytime soon *Editor’s Note: personally, we love it. No more dealing with random men telling us to smile.* We know this isn’t ideal, but research shows they do play a pivotal role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 which means countless lives saved, and cloth face masks can be as effective if worn properly. Think of them as a part of your reusable living routine (i.e. using a reusable water bottle, choosing eco-friendly clothing options, and shopping with reusable grocery bags). It may seem small, but little actions like this make a big difference. Need more convincing? Here are three reasons we believe reusable masks are the way to go:
Because cloth masks are reusable, they’re better for the environment by default. Disposable masks are intended to be worn once, then thrown away ; this means adding more and more to the global waste crisis. In addition, most disposable masks cannot be recycled and contain harmful plastics that make their way into our oceans only to harm our sea and wildlife (*cue distressing images of sad seagulls with their little feet tangled in mask strings*). Because they’re not biodegradable, they’ll break down into micro plastics that will then be ingested by other animals and eventually us. We know disposable masks may seem more convenient, but that convenience is coming at a high cost to our planet. If you’re like us and not in a high risk group (or a first responder), a reusable cloth mask can be a suitable alternative to surgical masks.
Reusable masks are meant for dozens of uses and can be hand-washed to extend their lifespan. While it may seem more expensive upfront, when you calculate the number of uses you get vs the cost of using a disposable mask each time you go out, the savings are significant. Sustainability extends to choosing options that make the most financial sense. A 10 pack of reusable masks may seem like a deal at the moment, but when you pause to consider that each of those masks is meant to be worn only once, while one Stellari sustainable cloth mask was designed to be washed and worn up to 50 times (or more!).
Disposable masks are designed for function, not comfort. As a result, they can be itchy and uncomfortable--especially in situations where they’ll be worn for extended periods of time. Reusable cloth masks tend to be made of softer and (in our humble opinion) more face-friendly materials; many are also adjustable in order to fit each face comfortably. If you’re physically active, reusable masks are a great option for workouts since they tend to be less irritating for your face and more breathable.
✥ UNIQLO’s Airism masks: We love the quality of these masks in combination with their affordable price point ($14.90 for a pack of three!). Note from Janelle, Stellari Founder::* “The masks are made for Asian faces, so fit has been challenging for my husband who has a larger head!” Fun fact: UNIQLO has been quietly in the sustainability game for decades.
Note from Janelle: “This BIPOC boutique in Downtown Los Angeles has been one of my favorite spots ever since they opened below my apartment. I love supporting local businesses.”
If you didn’t see a reusable face mask option you loved on the list above, we recommend checking your local small businesses and clothing boutiques! Many independent designers make reusable masks from deadstock (unused fabric) so you’ll get a reusable cloth mask in a variety of colors and patterns from a brand you already love; and, it’s always great to support your local small businesses!