Sustainable face mask. Photo credit: Unsplash

Whether we like it or not, face masks are now a part of our daily life. Of course, we must prioritise public health at a time like this, but how will we manage the waste that these masks produce?  

With a global monthly estimated use of 129 billion face maskshow can manufacturers help curb the impact on our planet? 

Charlotte Keegan, Area Sales Manager at UK-based huge manufacturer Portwest, explains the intricacies of the problem. Keegan, 30 years old, says: “Suddenly making these masks eco-friendly would involve a massive upheaval in process and price when raw materials are quite expensive already. 

“Everyone goes for the cheapest and easiest option. We’re always trying to make our products last longer, but it must come from the customer. We have to get away from this disposable ‘price war’ we have. 

The market for sustainable items is still ‘niche’, she believes, and as more people demand eco-friendly products, the production will become more accessible.  

“The younger generation is where things will change, where they’ll come through with new ideas and different buyers,” Keegan adds 

So how can we, as individuals, influence such a huge market? We must show manufacturers that the demand for sustainability has never been more important. Choosing the eco-friendly option, where possible, is always a step in the right direction. 

So, here are five of the most ethical and sustainable masks available. 

The Simple Folk Sustainable Mask (£7) 

The small, quaint Simple Folk team started as two friends, both mothers, striving for clothing that reflected their minimalist eco-lifestyle. They are members of the Change for Women Collective and support the Kikulu FoundationPencils of Promise & the Malala Fund 

They create pieces that are timeless, designed to be worn for years and passed down. Along with children’s clothes and women’s collections, they now sell The Sustainable Mask.  

Made with 100% organic cotton and OEKO-TEX® certified dyes, the mask is double-lined, washable and reusable. Produced ethically and sustainably, they donate a mask to women and children in need with every mask purchased. 

MAASK Sustainable Face Mask (£25) 

If you’re looking for high quality protection, look no further than MAASK’s sustainable face mask. The mask features an internal pocket for a replaceable PM 2.5 disposable filter. Five of these are included in the box, each one providing around 69 hours of use. 

Based in Brighton and manufactured ethically in Europe, this innovative mask is created entirely from recycled ocean plastic and is designed to be reused continuously to reduce waste. Plus, for every mask purchased, they donate two medical grade face masks to frontline workers in the UK. 

ISKO Vital™ (£15.25 for 5 masks) 

The ISKO Vital Face Cover comes in two lines: Premium and Supreme. All ISKO Vital face masks can be washed and reused. Made from organic cotton, their mask is eco-friendly, biodegradable and can be washed up to 30 times, depending on the mask.  

The real draw of the ISKO Vital range is the broad selection of colours and patterns available. Oriental floral patterns, solid colours and minimalist patterns are all on offer here. Who says sustainability sacrifices your style? 

SABINNA Face Masks (£70 for 5 masks) 

SABINNA are a proud, conscious company dedicated to ethically made fashion that combines aesthetics and quality while always keeping the environment at the forefront.  

These masks are made from SABINNA offcuts and natural fibres (Tencel, linen, organic cotton). They are 100% handmade from natural, sustainable and recycled materials in London.  

The masks come in three different sets: checked & striped, flowers and assorted. The colours are bold and versatile and cost £70 for a set of five. It’s a nice bonus that their products are packaged in 100% compostable mailers and 100% recycled tissue paper. 

Tabitha Eve Reusable Face Mask (£7.50) 

Tabitha Eve has crafted handmade eco-friendly face masks with cotton, bamboo and elastic. Based in the UK, the masks are available for both adults and children and come in a wide variety of colours and patterns.  

A key difference with this mask is that the elastic goes behind your head, to avoid irritation behind the ears. Plus, the products are packaged in brown card that is made from 100% recycled waste fibres. 

Read more on sustainability in our magazine Floreo