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The Sustainable Case for Cloth Face Masks
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The Sustainable Case for Cloth Face Masks

See why cloth face masks are your best option in terms of comfort, cash, and saving the planet.

2020 has been one weird blur for a lot of us. The start of a new decade brought with it a global pandemic, and suddenly, everyone was stocking up on toilet paper, getting too into Zoom backgrounds, and learning a lot about a protective item that next to no one knew anything about before: face masks.

While there was confusion in the beginning –– Do we need to wear masks? Does anything besides an N95 mask work? What material should my face mask be? –– it's been widely accepted at this point that face masks are an effective way of slowing the spread of coronavirus. But, what kind of masks should we be wearing?

Since COVID-19 began making its way through the United States, we've learned that surgical masks are in short supply and best saved for essential medical personnel. We've also learned that N95 masks are highly effective, but not reusable. And in some cases where the masks have valves, can actually contribute to the spread of the virus.

There is a type of mask that the CDC, Mayo Clinic, and others have recommended as preferred masks for daily use, and that's the cloth face mask. In this post, we'll walk through why cloth face masks make the most sense from the standpoints of comfort, money-saving, and sustainability.

Cloth face masks are comfortable

The degree to which this statement is true will vary based on which fabric type your mask is. But, compared to other mask styles, it holds true that cloth face masks are indeed more comfortable than others.

In all likelihood, we're going to be wearing masks in public for the foreseeable future, and if that's the case, they might as well be comfortable. Before purchasing a face mask, check to see what material it is made out of. Generally, this order holds true:

You may find other fringe materials for masks to be made from, but a lot of cloth masks are going to be made of one of those three fabric types. Ultimately, none of them are bad options, but if you're looking for the softest option out there, you'll want to keep that order in mind.

woman wearing white mask

Cloth masks are environmentally sustainable

One of the major drawbacks of surgical and most N95 masks is that they are not reusable. This is fine for the surgical settings for which they're intended, but as the general public have become mask wearers, wearing single-use masks day in and day out doesn't make much sense.

Let's say you're going to work Monday-Friday, and leaving the house once on the weekend for a grocery run. 6 days a week multiplied by 52 weeks is 312 instances for which you'll need to wear a mask during a year. That's also 312 masks you will simply throw away on your own after a year.

That's a huge amount just on an individual level –– and imagine if everyone were doing that. Not only would there be a massive mask shortage, but there'd be so much more additional and unnecessary waste. That said, cloth face masks are the much kinder option for the planet, as well as medical professionals who need and reply on having surgical masks available.

Cloth face masks are economically sustainable

One of the other compelling reasons to choose a cloth face mask is that, in the long-term, it will definitely save you money. Like we said, surgical masks and N95 masks are made for one-time use, meaning you'll end up having to purchase them again and again.

Going back to the example above, let's assume there are 312 instances in which you'll need to wear a mask throughout the course of a year. At the time of writing, this pack of 50 surgical face masks costs $29.99. Assuming you buy six of those packs during the year to add up to 300 masks, you'll end up having spend $179.94 on face masks, with nothing to show for it at the end.

Or, you could purchase a pack of three washable fabric face masks for $28 and not have to throw away one of them, all while saving $151.94 in the process.

Want to figure out which cloth face mask is right for you? Check out our Face Mask Buyer's Guide!

Get your cloth face masks at Real Thread

In need of a good fabric face mask? We've got you covered (literally). Real Thread offers a variety of face masks available either blank, or customized with your logo. Click here to shop face masks, or click here if you'd prefer to talk to our team and ask questions first.