After launching our key worker facemask giveaway at the beginning of May, we were flooded with requests from customers to make our masks available for sale. So we’ve refocused some of our production from shirts, to making our sustainable and reusable facemasks - in doing so, we’re hoping to do our bit to keep communities safe whilst making sure that specialist, medical-grade face masks stay reserved for front line NHS and care workers.
Many countries have made facemasks compulsory in public places where social distancing is impossible or difficult to guarantee, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The government have now made the wearing of face coverings compulsory on public transport, and many people are also choosing to wear them in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Facemasks are playing a key role as we start to slowly transition out of full lockdown. Whilst masks are definitely not a replacement of social distancing or hand-washing, there’s a fair bit of evidence to suggest that if they’re used properly, they are effective in reducing transmission of viruses - Covid-19 included. We’ve been reading up on some of the research as well as the safe way to use facemasks.
What the research is saying
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh of the Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford recently said in the British Medical Journal: ‘Masks are simple, cheap, and potentially effective. We believe that, worn both in the home (particularly by the person showing symptoms) and also outside the home in situations where meeting others is likely (for example, shopping, public transport), they could have a substantial impact on transmission with a relatively small impact on social and economic life.’ She continues, ‘The virus has been shown to remain viable in the air for several hours when released in an aerosol under experimental conditions...Individuals have been shown to be infectious up to 2.5 days before symptom onset, and as many as 50% of infections seem to occur from presymptomatic individuals.’ That means that even if people don’t have symptoms, they can still pass on the virus. By wearing masks we can therefore protect ourselves, as well as those around us by ensuring that if we are infected but don’t have symptoms, we pose less of a risk. It’s a simple thing to do that could have a big cumulative impact; as such, Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) coronavirus special envoy, believes people wearing some form of facial protection outdoors will become the norm.
How to use masks safely
Facemasks are only effective if they’re used correctly. We recently spoke to some front line medical workers about ways to use facemarks safely - here’s their advice:
- Don’t touch your face or the outside of the mask while you're wearing it, as virus particles can of course gather on the surface while you’re out and about.
- When you’re removing your face mask, be careful not touch your eyes, nose or mouth - ideally, use the elastic behind the ears to remove it.
- Always wash your hands immediately after removing your mask, and wash your mask regularly.
- Children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing shouldn’t use face masks.
Our masks - sustainable, functional AND fun
Our masks aren’t medical-grade - they’re designed specifically for daily use, on public transport or when shopping. Medical-grade masks need to be reserved for frontline NHS workers.
Our face masks are made from recycled plastic bottles - the same fabric that makes our shirts and scrunchies. This soft, silky fabric combined with the adjustable slipknot makes for a comfy mask that can be fitted to all adult faces. Our masks have three layers: a front and back layer of a woven fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, and internal layer of non-woven bonded interfacing.
We’ve thought carefully about the safety and functionality of our masks, as well as ensuring that we’re making them in as sustainable a way as possible. In addition to using sustainable fabric, we use zero-waste sublimation printing that doesn’t use excess dyes, and the dyes we do use are non-toxic. And because our masks are reusable and washable (we recommend washing on a gentle 30 degrees cycle), it’s a much more sustainable option that using a new, disposable mask every day.
Finally, let’s not forget the prints! We’ve made our facemarks reversible, so you get two colourful print options with one mask. Whether it’s the Shima animal print in viridian green and dusky pink, our intricate Eye of Newt print in pop-art colours or the endlessly joyful Daisy print, there’s a print for everyone. We’re playing our part in protecting you and your community by making these masks, and we hope they also add an uplifting boost to your day when you wear them.