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Sustainable PPE Alternatives

One of the biggest concerns for sustainability experts and medical professionals alike is the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the medical field, and the ways in which it is disposed. Doctors, nurses and caregivers all use mass quantities of masks, gloves, gowns, and other forms of non-reusable PPE, and the amount used since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic early this year has grown exponentially.

While disposable PPE is likely the safest option for those on the frontlines of the pandemic, for those of us looking for protection during a trip to the grocery store or other public places, there are plenty of reusable, non-medical grade face mask options that are effective and comply with face covering regulations. Here are some examples of reusable face masks available online.

$18/ 1 mask

These masks available in a number of styles and sizes for both children and adults feature a replaceable nanofiber filter that can be used for up to 12 hours at a time and removed each time you wash the mask. For every mask sold, Vistaprint is donating 10% to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic. As well, Vistaprint has donated over 100,000 masks and face shields to organizations in need.

5-Pack for $20

These face masks made by Los Angeles-based brand Buck Mason are some of the most inexpensive reusable face masks, and can be used up to 30 washes. For every mask sold, the brand will donate one to those in need- as of June 2nd they sold 606,135 masks!

4-pack for $30

Avocado, the makers of eco-friendly mattresses and pillows, are now making 100% cotton face masks with two layers of cotton and a pocket to hold a filter. Avocado is donating 1% of sales to EcoHealth Alliance.

For those of us wanting to help out small businesses during the pandemic, check out Etsy for retailers selling reusable face masks. Many masks sold are low-priced and are available to ship almost immediately.

5-pack for $25

Fans of the sustainable fashion brand Reformation, like myself, will be pleased to know the Los Angeles-based company took the opportunity during which their factories were closed due to California’s Stay at Home Order and pivoted operations to making reusable face masks from excess fabrics. Reformation has partnered with the city of Los Angeles for LA Protects, an initiative created to produce 5 million non-medical grade masks for those in the community. Their website offers the option to purchase masks for yourself and also to donate a pack of 5.

4-pack for $20

Many parents have found it challenging to explain the pandemic to young children, especially our need to wear face masks and other PPE that can be frightening and intrusive to young children. Disney is finding a way to make wearing face masks less scary and more appealing to young children by making masks featuring some of their timeless and beloved characters. Disney is also donating 1 million masks to families in underserved and vulnerable communities across the United States to be distributed by MedShare.

These are just some examples of retailers selling reusable face masks. But remember: the face masks listed are non-medical grade, and are only intended to slow the spread of the virus; nothing can stop the spread like social distancing.

For more reusable face masks, check out this link:

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