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With the second wave of COVID-19 hitting the Australian state of Victoria and propelling the government to announce Stage 4 restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne (and requiring all Victorians to wear face coverings) it’s clear that the coronavirus isn’t going away any time soon.
And with single-use face masks discarded on beaches, streets and public spaces, the environmental waste problem is as concerning as the coronavirus health problem itself. To encourage readers to choose eco-friendly mask alternatives, we’ve curated this list of ethical and sustainable face masks that are washable, reusable and consciously made from low-impact fabrics.
Because protecting your health shouldn’t come at the cost of the planet’s.
1. Filtering Face Mask* | Ecomask
On a mission to create the most sustainable mask, Ecomask manufactures in Germany in a facility with 100% renewable energy and fair labor practices. Its face masks are made with a certified FFP2 filter and ECONYL®, a 100% regenerated nylon fiber made from pre and post-consumer waste such as nylon scraps and fishing nets.
The company also donates 1% of proceeds from all purchases to the Healthy Seas, an environmental charity cleaning up the oceans by recovering nets and other plastic waste and upcycling them into new textile products. To achieve their vision of a ‘circular’ zero-waste product, Ecomask is currently working on a process to collect and recycle masks at the end of life.
Priced at $27. Buy here.
Ethical womenswear label Amour Vert is known for its use of low-impact and organic materials and its commitment to local US manufacturing. Its reusable, double-layered fabric masks come in four colours/prints and are made from a blend of eco-friendly deadstock fabrics such as TENCEL, Modal and organic cotton. For each purchase, the brand donates a mask to an essential worker in the City of San Francisco.
Priced at $50 for 3-mask bundle. Buy here.
Australian brand Etiko has built its reputation on being one of the country’s pioneers in fair-trade certified, GOTS-certified organic cotton apparel and sneakers. The brand has extended its product range to include triple-layer reusable masks that are machine washable and have elastic ear loops. Comes in three sizes and available in black and on pre-order only.
Price A$20. Pre-order a mask here.
This La Petite Alice handmade, reusable double-layered natural-coloured face mask made with OEKO TEX certified 100% organic linen that comes with elastic ear loops and optional hand embroidery. A super stylish mask that complements wearers that have minimalist and contemporary design leanings.
Priced at A$17.30. Buy it here.
American ethical business and online marketplace Made Trade ethically produces soft masks made with recycled hemp and GOTS-certified organic cotton and features elastic ear loops and pleating for wider coverage. These reusable masks also have an interior pocket for a filter (filter is not included). Made in accordance with CDC guidelines, these masks are handmade in Portland, Oregon by a team of skilled garment workers. Available in three colours: Fog, Pine, and Ocean.
World surfing legend Kelly Slater’s fair-trade sustainable apparel brand Outerknown has released its own line of sustainable masks thanks to COVID-19. Made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, this unisex one-size-fits-most washable, reusable non-medical 2-ply organic cotton jersey masks are hand-dyed with non-toxic indigo dye. It also features head and neck elastic straps to secure fit.
Priced at A$52 for 3-pack. Buy here.
Australian sustainable fashion label Pure Pod produces three-layered breathable face masks featuring soft elastic ear loops, removal filter and made from eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton, natural fibre deadstock fabrics and linens. Available in a variety of colours and prints, these non-medical reusable masks are designed and made in Australia.
Priced at A$27.50. Shop here.
For an affordable, reusable and eco-friendly face mask, this one by WashableFaceMasksEU on Etsy looks great, has a sleek fit, and is budget-friendly. Handmade with an inner and outer layer from 100% certified organic cotton, this beautifully-made washable adult mask is also available in a variety of trendy colours including pink, black, beige and yellow.
Priced at A$8.65 but can be purchased in bulk. Ships worldwide. Shop here.
Reformation’s non-medical, washable, reusable masks are made in the company’s Los Angeles factory from fabrics such as Tencel Lyocell, cotton, and a blend of viscose/rayon and have ties so that you can adjust to your face. By purchasing a five-pack mask set, you are also making a donation to essential workers and communities in need through the brand’s partnership with LA Protects.
Reformations 5-pack mask set priced at A$42. Shop here.
Conscious shoe brand Nisolo is known for its artisan-made leather shoes and sandals but with the recent pandemic, the brand have launched a Mask Marketplace and evaluated over 100 masks in search of the best masks in terms of compliance to CDC specifications, style, comfort, function, ethics and environmental impact.
One brand Nisolo stocks is Emlee, a local Nashville brand that makes two-toned masks using deadstock fabrics (such as linen, cotton and hemp) and are designed to fit comfortably on your face. Another brand on the site, Hedley & Bennett handcrafts washable masks using double-layered cotton and features reinforced stitching, a filter pocket, and a name tag. This non-medical USA-made mask was developed with the expertise and input of a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
Prices from US$15. Browse masks here.
For artistic designs, you’re going to love Australian label Clothing The Gap’s 3 ply, material reusable masks. Featuring artwork by Gunditjmara woman, Laura Thompson, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) compliant mask is made from polyester-cotton blend, has elastic ear loops, adjustable wire nose fitting and comes in two designs and two sizes, S/M and M/L. Ethically made in Melbourne.
Price A$35. Shop here.
San Francisco-based ethical fashion brand tonlé produces women’s apparel using remnant fabrics and a zero-waste design process and given the pandemic, has extended its offerings to include reusable face masks. The triple-layered face masks are ethically made in Cambodia from remnant quilted linen or cotton jersey or a blend of both. The masks come with adjustable ties and is available in unique prints, colours and patchwork designs. Available in two sizes and also comes in bulk packs of three, five, 10 or 50.
Prices start at US$24 for a 3-pack of masks. Shop here.
Crafted to comply with CDC specifications and made from deadstock and salvaged fabric (a blend of hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester), these United By Blue 3-pack reusable face masks don’t just help the wearer, but gives back too. For each purchase, a mask will be donated to Chosen 300 to help the homeless in Philadelphia.
Price of 3-pack large/adult face mask US$20. Shop here.
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Cover image via La Petite Alice.