The best way to be environmentally friendly is to re-use, upcycle, and recycle. Knowing that our landfills will soon be teeming with single-use face masks, we were encouraged to seek alternative face mask coverings that could be washed and reused.
But faced with the question of what fabric to use for these reusable face masks, our research into textiles found that all fabrics have some kind of environmental cons.
Polyester, nylon and acrylic fabrics are very popular in fashion clothing because they are usually cheap to produce, easy to wash, and seldom fade or wrinkle - very convenient and affordable. However, a 2011 study by ecologist Mark Browne (Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Worldwide: Sources and Sinks), found that 18 different shorelines across 6 different continents were all contaminated with microplastics. These man-made fabrics release thousands of plastic microfibers when put through the washing machine, travelling through our sewerage systems, and into the ocean where they end up in marine animals and the environment. These minuscule plastic microfibers have even been found in the fish we eat!
Another heavyweight in the textiles world is cotton, a natural fiber that is most widely used in our world today. Whilst cotton is loved for its non-allergenic, breathable, and strong qualities, unfortunately through its production and processing, cotton has been a big culprit for being the largest user of water amongst all agricultural materials. This thirsty crop also requires substantial fertilizers and pesticides, with the runoff affecting the quality of soil and water, and simultaneously threatening and contaminating the health of nearby biodiversity, farmworkers, and populations.
On the other hand, the mulberry trees which are essential for silkworms to spin silk from require much less water to grow, and in addition do not require the use of pesticides or fertilizers. As a result, this means that silk is one of the cleaner textile industries as the toxic chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers are not introduced into the fabric itself.
Being a highly renewable resource (unlike fossil fuel derived fabrics such as nylon and acrylic), silk is also biogradable as it is a natural fiber. Therefore silk that ends up in landfills or in the environment will eventually biodegrade, and can also go on to produce mulch or compost, unlike petroleum-based fabrics that can linger in the environment for 500+ years.
Being a zero-waste and circular fabric, silk and all of its byproducts can be integrated back into the local economy and ecosystem. The berries from the mulberry tree can be consumed, the wood from the tree can be used as timber and fuel, the remaining foliage fed to cattle animals, the leftover waste used as fertilizer, the remaining low-quality silk can be used to fill products such as duvets. Even sericin, a silk protein that is rich in proline offering anti-wrinkle effects and increased skin elasticity can be recovered from wastewater and be added to products such as food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other textiles.
But as we first mentioned, the best way to be environmentally friendly is to re-use, upcycle, and recycle. Whilst there are many different textiles on the market, using upcycled silk that can naturally biodegrade over time is one of the more eco-friendly options.
You can breathe easy with our Silk Protective Face Masks as they are sustainably produced from high quality upcycled silk. Many high-end fashion companies purchase large quantities of fabric that never end be up being used, thus rather than disposing them into landfill, we have repurposed these silks to produce smooth and luxurious protective face masks. By extending the life of these unwanted silks and minimizing the waste by preventing it from going into landfills, this also lessens the need for more raw materials, energy consumption, and pollution during the manufacturing process.
A bonus is that our silk face masks are reusable and can be washed up to 20 times and more - no pesky plastic microfibers here. And whilst certain silk garments require dry-cleaning, our Protective Silk Face Masks also respond well to hand-washing and pressing with a gentle cool iron (we recommend protecting the silk by placing a cloth between the iron and silk before ironing).
Our Silk Protective Face Masks are sustainably produced for sustainable use.
Want to purchase an eco-friendly silk face mask for yourself?