The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is still sickening a staggering number of people. Although states and numerous businesses are reopening, experts warn that this is not a sign that it’s completely safe to go about business as usual and that reopenings may even contribute to a false sense of safety and normalcy. As much as all of us wish to operate with our old freedoms, with new hot spots cropping up across the country, we’d be wise to remain vigilant. Fortunately, the virus has been studied extensively, and we’ve learned several ways to optimize our safety as we adopt feasible, informed ways to work, grab groceries, and be in spaces other than our homes!
The CDC explains that in addition to practicing social distancing, wearing a cloth face mask or covering is a helpful way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and can play a critical role in reducing the likelihood that an asymptomatic person infected with the virus will transfer it to someone else: “CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.” In other words, wearing a face mask in public is the smart, kind, responsible, mature thing to do. It’s how we protect each other. Any discomfort and hassle masks may cause pale in comparison to the potential consequences of not wearing one.
Despite these heavy considerations, we can still find a way to spark a little joy while shopping for and wearing a face mask—and we can probably all agree that little pockets of cheer are in high demand! So let’s take a look at a few cloth face mask options that do double duty—offering protection and doing good, whether that’s giving back to the community or being created through sustainable means.
Face Masks that Make Protection a Wee Bit More Joyful
Giving to Frontline Workers
This line of “Banding Together” face masks was designed with the help of various influential creative folks, including makeup artist Nam Vo of the “Dewy Dumpling” look.
Fashion start-up Anywear partnered with Allure after seeing images of skin irritation experienced by frontline workers from constantly wearing masks. These soft, breathable mask sets prevent behind-the-ear chafing thanks to the clever headband with buttons for attaching the mask’s elastic. For each set purchased, Allure x Anywear will donate a headband to a frontline worker. While frontline workers may not be able to wear a soft cotton mask, they can pair their heavy-duty medical-grade mask with the headband to provide more comfort (and enjoy a small touch of whimsy).
Simple, Sustainable Face Masks for You & Essential Workers
Sustainable clothing brand Reformation has partnered with the city of LA to use the Reformation factory to provide masks for essential workers through the Millions of Masks program. Through the site, you can purchase a pack of masks and/or donate a pack. The fun part about purchasing masks for yourself is that you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get–fabric patterns and fabric types vary depending on what’s available (you will get tencel, viscose, or a cotton blend).
Gorgeous Masks that Donate to Frontline Workers
This Black-owned brand features cloth face masks with several striking West African patterns. Purchase of a mask contributes to the brand’s donations to Feed the Frontlines in Detroit (where DIOP is based). These funds help provide meals to frontline workers. So far, the brand has raised $53,000 and is now also supporting additional programs—from Pay It Forward Detroit to the One Fair Wage Emergency Fund. DIOP explains its stance on inclusion and cultural appropriation here.
Organic Cotton Face Masks from a Company that Gives Back
Larkspur is a sustainable lingerie company with exquisite designs. Currently, Larkspur is featuring a small supply of organic cotton face masks for purchase to help cover the cost of the ones the company has created to donate to healthcare workers. In addition to simple, unbleached cotton masks, Larkspur also has beautiful, hand-painted watercolor masks. The straps are also organic cotton.
Making Your Own with Repurposed T-Shirt
If you’re feeling a bit crafty or would like to save some money, here’s a video tutorial for creating one from a T-shirt. This is a great way to repurpose a T-shirt that doesn’t get much love (yay for sustainable and affordable crafts!). This tutorial shows you how to create an extra pocket if you’d like to insert your own filter. The best part? No sewing involved!
Which of these face masks speak to you?
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Photo: Allure x Anywear, Reformation, DIOP, Larkspur