Things have changed since last time we covered eco-friendly shopping. Chief among them? The fact that we all have a new accessory to shop for these days: face masks. Because we are constantly working to become more sustainable—both as individuals and as a brand—it only made sense that we explore reusable, sustainably made options. Read on for a few of our picks! (And please note that while these masks meet CDC specifications for cloth face masks, they are not medical-grade.)
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Let’s start this list with a fashion industry vocab lesson. Deadstock fabrics are the textiles left behind after a brand completes a collection or discontinues a style. Unfortunately, much of it ends up in landfills. Christy Dawn—one of our favorite US-based fashion brands—has long sourced deadstock fabric to create their signature flowy dresses. And now, they're using the same leftover fabrics to make sustainable face maks, too. They sell theirs in packs of three and five (in both adult and child sizes!) and offer cotton, linen, and silk options. The range of highly wearable prints doesn't hurt, either. Go whimsical with florals, or keep thing more business casual with plaids and stripes. Shop here.
United by Blue
Like Christy Dawn, United by Blue made sustainability a core tenet of their company from the start. Among other initiatives, they pledge to remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product purchased. They also manufacture in GOTS-certified factories from sustainable materials. (To learn more, read their 2019 Impact Report here.) Accordingly, the deadstock that composes their face masks has an added sustainable element: the fabric is a blend of hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester, and TENCEL™ (a man-made biodegradable fabric produced using sustainable methods). Though these masks do not include a filter, they do have a space to insert one for added protection. To increase the feel-good factor, for every three-pack purchased, the company donates one mask to Chosen 300 to benefit Philadelphia residents experiencing homelessness. Shop here.
If you’ve ever had the great privilege of wearing one of lemlem’s breezy summer dresses, you know they’re not joking around when it comes to comfortable materials—and their masks are no exception. Made in Kenya from up-cycled lemlem fabric, their sustainable face masks are machine washable and come in a pack of two. Because their fabric is handmade in Africa using traditional motifs and techniques, each one truly feels like its own unique work of art. Furthermore, five percent of the brand’s proceeds benefit their philanthropic arm, the lemlem Foundation, which helps connect women artisans in Africa to healthcare, education and jobs. Shop here.
Sustainability is just the start when it comes to things we love about this company, which—like lemlem—is Black-owned and woman-owned. In addition to manufacturing with eco-friendly textiles in a fair labor factory in California, Taylor Jay offers inclusive sizing and smart design features to ensure a beautiful fit for every body type. Their sustainable face masks are made from repurposed cotton and come in a variety of versatile, chic patterns and colors. And did we mention that Prince Harry was spotted wearing one just the other day? Shop here.
Though best known for their organic mattresses, Avocado is also creating sustainable face masks that have more than a few things going for them. The masks are GOTS-certified and made with two layers of organic cotton canvas, with a pocket that allows for a filter. They also feature straps that tie behind the head, as opposed to elastic ear loops. Many find this option more comfortable than ear loops, particularly for longer periods of time. It also means the masks are completely plastic-free. Shop here.
This brand is setting something of a gold standard when it comes to sustainable fashion, with a zero-waste mission and unique production process intended to quite literally leave the world with less waste than they found it. The Tonlé design process starts in the remnant markets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where excess textiles from large garment factories are resold. The Tonlé team sources and uses larger pieces of fabric to create their own collections, then partners with Weaves of Cambodia—a fair-wage, community-centric weaving collective—to weave the leftovers (and any other unusable scraps) into yarn for new pieces. Scooping up a few of their linen and cotton masks is a great way to support their incredible mission. Shop here.
Madewell uses their own deadstock for creating their cotton face masks, so pattern availability is consistent with the brand’s classic-casual, stripes-and-solids aesthetic. They come in packs of three for a wallet-friendly $20, and each one has a three-layer construction that includes a filter. (No need to remove it when hand-washing!) Also worth noting: Madewell and J.Crew have donated over 75,000 masks to the Montefiore Medical Center in New York as part of their COVID-19 response. Reviews indicate that, though comfortable, these masks run on the larger side. Shop here.