Although wearing a face mask in public is the responsible decision during a global pandemic, let's not allow the need for such a precaution to overshadow our eco-conscious judgments when deciding what type of non-medical covering to buy. As discarded single-use face masks pile up on beaches and nature trails, the environmental threat posed by these COVID-19 essentials is a fast-growing concern. Luckily, there are sustainable-style alternatives to help curb the impact of this issue — and if your current face covering (fashion-forward or otherwise) is washable and reusable, then you're already on the right track.
Things like breathability and personal expression matter when picking out a mask that's best suited to our particular lifestyles (and faces) — but it's also important to consider how a mask is made, what materials it's crafted from, and, ultimately, what impact that has on the environment. By paying attention to the fabrics and production methods used to create these masks, we can make more eco-friendly choices when it comes to protecting ourselves, others, and the planet. A handful of top sustainable-retailer favorites (like Nisolo and Collina Strada) are already a step ahead of us; offering durable options made from up-cycled materials, deadstock fabrics, and/or natural fibers that are designed to last longer. Even a quick Etsy search will direct you towards an impressive selection of handmade face masks from smaller vendors — which translates to less energy and resources wasted.
We've rounded up 11 such sustainable styles ahead that are ready to get the germ-shielding job done — without harming the planet in the process.
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United By Blue 3-Pack Salvaged Hemp Blend Face Mask
United By Blue is a mission-driven. sustainable lifestyle company that removes 1 pound of trash from the world's oceans and waterways for every product sold. Their masks are made from deadstock fabrics including Hemp, Organic Cotton, and Recycled Polyester, and for each 3-pack sold, one mask will be donated to Chosen 300 to benefit Philadelphia residents experiencing homelessness.
United By Blue Salvaged Hemp Blend Face Mask (3 Pack), $, available at United By Blue
OhSevenDays Oh'Mask 3-Pack
The face masks from this mindfully made womenswear label are not only fashioned from deadstock fabrics — those scraps are leftovers from the company's very own production methods. They feature two layers of natural fiber fabric with simple adjustable tie straps.
OhSevenDays Oh'Mask Three Pack, $, available at OhSevenDays
Summersalt 3-Pack Face Coverings
Trendy travel-wear brand Summersalt is now offering 3-packs of machine-washable, non-medical grade face coverings made from recycled materials and 100% cotton.
Summersalt 3-Pack Face Coverings, $, available at Summersalt
Collina Strada Fashion Face Mask With Bows
Collina Strada is a fashionable platform for climate and social awareness, change, and self-expression — all of which come together in the designer's beautifully made face masks. The masks, made from deadstock materials, fasten with delightfully patterned bows and feature an opening to insert your filter inside. With the purchase of one mask for yourself, you will also be providing five more to healthcare workers in New York City.
Collina Strada Fashion Face Masks With Bows, $, available at Collina Strada
Nisolo Upcycled Linen & Cotton Lined Mask
Handmade by the local Nashville artist behind the apparel company Emlee, these masks feature a trendy two-tone pattern cut to fit your face. Each mask is hand-sewn by local seamstresses using deadstock linen, cotton, and hemp fabrics and lined with 100% USA-made cotton twill for comfort.
Nisolo Upcycled Linen & Cotton Lined Mask, $, available at Nisolo
Onzie Mindful Masks 2-Pack
The stretchy, quick-drying, high-performance multi-layer fabric is made in Los Angeles from up-cycled fabrics used in the Onzie's yoga clothing.
Onzie Mindful Masks 2-Pack, $, available at Onzie
Threads 4 Thought Watercolor Peony Face Mask
This responsibly produced lifestyle brand has always supported sustainable initiatives, and their masks are made using some of the world's most eco-friendly materials, including recycled polyester and Lenzing Modals.
Threads 4 Thought Watercolor Peony Face Mask, $, available at Threads 4 Thought
Animalia Elephant & Sloth Face Masks – 2 Pack
These masks do so much more than protect you and your community from the spread of COVID-19. They're ethically made in Los Angeles with mother Earth in mind, fashioned out of 50% Recycled Cotton and 50% Recycled Polyester. What's more: This small non-profit is sharing the proceeds of their mask sales with The Lao Elephant Initiative and The Sloth Conservation in Costa Rica.
Animalia Elephant & Sloth Face Masks – 2 Pack, $, available at Animalia
Jennifer Behr Cotton Face Mask, Set Of 2
Jennifer Behr's fabulously patterned face masks are all handmade locally out of their New York studio using favorite fabrics from seasons past. The styles are washable, reversible, reusable, and part of a match program where the brand will donate 1 for 1 to essential workers.
Jennifer Behr Cotton Face Mask, Set of 2, $, available at Jennifer Behr
Madewell Three-Pack Non-Medical Face Masks
Each Madewell mask is crafted from leftover fabric scraps, which means every color is a limited edition. In addition to launching washable and reusable face masks for their customers, Madewell and J.Crew have donated 75,000 single-use face masks to Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
Madewell Three-Pack Non-Medical Face Masks, $, available at Madewell
Lola Loves It Reusable Face Mask
Made from 100% cotton, these face masks are individually handcrafted in Los Angeles by a mother-daughter team. After testing multiple possibilities to find the best design, the duo chose to double-stitch the sides of each mask so they last longer and fit more securely.
Lola Loves It 100% Cotton Reusable Face Mask, $, available at Etsy
St. John Camel Pique Animal Print Care Mask
American luxury house St. John launched a striking selection of limited-edition Care Masks that are sustainably crafted from surplus pique fabric. Plus, when you buy one of these masks, St. John will donate three non-surgical antimicrobial masks to those in need.
St. John Camel Pique Animal Print Care Mask, $, available at St. John
Graf Lantz Anshin Organic Cotton Face Mask
All Graf Lantz masks have been handmade in Los Angeles from premium-quality, 100% organic cotton twill. The fabric is eco-friendly and sustainably processed throughout dyeing and finishing.
Graf Lantz Anshin Organic Cotton Face Mask – Ear Band, $, available at Graf Lantz
Everlane The 100% Human Face Mask Three-Pack
Each reusable non-medical mask from the famously sustainable Everlane is made from a 100% cotton, double-layer knit fabric and features cotton-Lycra ear loops for a little stretch and a lot of comfort. And there's a feel-good factor too, because for each 100% Human Face Mask 5-Pack sold, the retailer will be donating 10% sales to the ACLU.
Everlane The 100% Human Face Mask 5-Pack, $, available at Everlane
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