Your guide for where to buy eco-friendly masks

Your guide for where to buy eco-friendly masks

Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE

Five options for your fashionable, yet environmentally friendly needs 

In the middle of a pandemic it may be difficult to stay focused on other life-threatening situations currently going on. Nevertheless, it is crucial to keep doing so. Pollution from the coronavirus has severely impacted the environment. Now, clean up crews are finding plastic hand sanitizer bottles, gloves and disposable masks polluting the oceans, according to The Guardian

With issues like Target selling masks in plastic bags and disposable masks being thrown out on the street, the most environmentally friendly option is to use reusable masks. The CDC recommends the use of reusable face masks with two layers that fit snugly around the side of your face, making sure there are no gaps. The CDC also asks individuals to refrain from using N95 masks or any masks used by healthcare workers to avoid a shortage. 

The best environmentally friendly option is a reusable mask, but that still does not guarantee that the masks themselves are eco-friendly. So here are five eco-friendly brands that sell masks online, because the less face-to-face interaction, the better. 

Tonlé

Tonlé creates clothing and accessories through a zero-waste process. They use leftover materials from companies that have thrown them out. Their fabrics consist of deadstock, cut-waste and textiles from remnant markets where their team visits weekly in order to find the perfect fabric for their design process. While most large factories use cutting machines, and therefore waste excess fabric in the process, Tonlé cuts most of its products by hand. All of Tonlé’s dyes are non-toxic and 80% of dyes come from ingredients like soy milk and lemon, according to their website

Tonlé’s masks come in packs ranging from 3 to 50, with a price range of $24 to $225. Their maks have three layers of quilted cotton, including a layer for a filter. Their ear straps are now made of cloth ties instead of elastic. Masks are shipped in poly bags to ensure the sanitation of each mask. 

Tentree

With the slogan “Protect the planet, protect your community, protect yourself,” it’s only reasonable to expect Tentree to give back and care for the environment as much as any tree hugger out there would. For every product you buy, Tentree plants ten trees. Every piece of apparel that a customer buys comes with a unique code for your ten trees which gives you the ability to register the code and track the trees to see where they will be planted. They have a guarantee that the trees will be planted within six months of the purchase. They have planted over seven million trees in various countries including Mexico, Madagascar, Indonesia and Nepal. 

Tentree’s masks have two layers of fabric and they include a space for a filter, though the filter is not included with purchase. Their masks come in a pack of three and are available for $20. Masks are made of eco-friendly materials such as hemp, organic cotton and recycled polyester. 

United By Blue

United By Blue has worked to create sustainable materials in their apparel for the past 10 years. United By Blue is a certified B corporation meaning they are legally required to consider their impact on not just on the environment, but also on the people within the company and the people that make the products. B corporations employ certified performance, are held legally accountable and partake in public transparency. 

United By Blue is selling a pack of three masks for $20. For every pack purchased, one mask will be donated to Chosen 300, a ministry that aids the homeless in Philadelphia. Their masks include a double layer of fabric, with the availability for a filter, but the filter is not included. Masks are made from deadstock fabric, which includes Hemp, organic cotton and recycled polyester. The company is based in Canada, but according to their website, they produce their masks in factories around the globe in countries including China and Turkey. The company displays numerous certifications of their products being ethically made (both environment friendly and ethically sound) on their website with certifications including the Global Organic Textile Standard and Fair Wear. 

For Days 

For Days uses sustainable materials and has a loop system with the SWAP program. Anything sent back to For Days gets recycled and for a cheaper price, shoppers can swap out anything at any time they’d like. Every item available on For Days is 100% recyclable. This company is zero waste and all scraps are recycled into new products. 

A three pack of masks are $20 and a five pack is $25. The masks are made of a double layer of 100% cotton. 

Whimsy + Row 

Whimsy + Row uses locally sourced and upcycled materials for their products. They recycle every piece of scrap that is left over throughout their design process and use those scrap pieces for small accessories such as bandanas. With the even smaller bits left over they give the excess scrap to another company that will make use of the pieces, leaving minimal amounts in landfills. The local factories also allow the company to visit when needed ensuring that their workers are treated well and maintain an ethical work environment. The brand also provides an eco-friendly shipping experience for their customers. They use 100% recycled materials from EcoEnclose, a source for eco-friendly packaging. 

Masks range from $10 to $28 with different styles on their website. Some masks include three layers, two of which are cotton and one is a filter of polypropylene. There is also an option to add in an additional filter for the mask. The mask is made of 100% deadstock cotton and hand washing is recommended. For every mask bought from Whimsy + Row, they donate one to Los Angeles communities in need such as the Downtown Women’s Center and Union Rescue Mission. 

It can be difficult to support ethical brands when the necessary resources aren’t available to do so. Products upwards of $20 plus shipping costs sometimes isn’t a viable option, especially in the middle of a pandemic. The next best option is to make a DIY mask with recyclable materials. Creating a mask not only reduces the excess plastic and pollution produced by shipping, but it also kills some time, which tends to be immensely needed during these days. 

Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org