Wearing a face mask was made mandatory on public transports in England from Monday the 15th of June and now in stores from the 24th of July. Whilst some are still arguing the efficacy of masks in preventing the spread, many evidence-based research support the use of masks and you can read more from the CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, we are now faced with the sad reality of single-use masks that could amount to at least 66,000 tonnes of waste if we don't choose right from the beginning.
Understandably this is a preventative measure that we all should embrace in addition to all other hygiene measures including social distancing when outside our homes. Prevention is always better than cure.
So why should you choose a reusable face mask?
Before I answer this question, I think you need to know more about the general types of face masks out there that have been approved by NHS England, CDC and WHO for public use:
- Reusable Mask - This is the type we sell here at The Cleaning Cabinet and it is washable (hand & machine) and can be reused multiple times for as long as the fabric and the mask components last. They have been made with 2 layers of 100% tightly woven cotton fabric & a 3rd layer of unwoven fabric as a filter. You would find most handmade face masks like ours have colourful patterns. Ours, for instance, comes in plain or African print designs. Something that sets our face masks apart is that they have been sourced from Nigeria, from a young sustainable fashion outfit who is providing employment for men and women who may find it rather difficult to find employment especially with the pandemic. These, however, come in different fits depending on your face.
- Single use Masks - These vary from your everyday face mask, which is recommended to use in public all the way to your surgical mask. They are not designed to be reused or washed because they are made of layers of material (sometimes plastic) which will shrink or deform when washed. The process of washing can render the face mask to became inadequate in protecting you from the virus. Sadly, these ones are now becoming a major source of litter and pollution which we must all stand against.
- Other Medical Grade or Specialist Masks - These are the like of self-contained breathing apparatus, full face respirators, p95 & p100 respirator/ gas mask. They are specially designed for healthcare & non-healthcare related purposes such as fire fighting situations, painting, fumigation etc, but they can be helpful if you struggle to breath through the cloth (reusable) masks or if you have a form of reaction to wearing a cloth face mask. This range of breathing apparatus and respirators are not cheap either so you may want to avoid spending extra cash on them where possible.
On to the question of why choose reusable face masks. Recent analysis by scientists at University College London show that if every person in the UK used one single-use mask each day for a year, an extra 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste would be created. This is sadly the grim reality facing us that we can either choose to ignore or act on. According to them, reusable masks perform the same as single-use masks, so I believe we don't have an excuse to not use them. Plus it is more cost-effective!
Therefore, you can choose to make your own masks or buy reusable face mask from us here. It is high time we all embraced the culture of reuse.
In my humble opinion, a reusable mask is the better choice. You would be a better steward of our environment by reusing a facemask. You will save yourself a lot in the short and long term by buying reusable facemasks.
The final reason why you should consider our reusable facemask is the fact that they are hand made from Nigeria and the vendor is genuinely honest and keen to provide employment for their staff in a country where long term employment is hard to attain. Making our masks not just ethical but also fairtrade.
If you have any question about the article, please send us an email, myself and the rest of the team are here to help. Remember, shop sustainably and reuse everything where possible before recycling.