New Zealanders are now being encouraged to stock up on masks in preparation for a possible second-wave of Covid.

We need to protect ourselves and each other from COVID-19, but we don’t need to pollute the planet with more throwaway plastic!

The hundreds of billions of disposable plastic masks and gloves we are using globally are creating a new kind of plastic pollution crisis—ending up in nature, piling up in landfills, or being burned in incinerators. We need to reserve the medical-grade masks for healthcare and frontline workers and make choices to protect ourselves from COVID-19 in ways that will not endanger human health or the planet in the future.

In many situations, a mask can help—but you can make a reusable mask with materials you already have at home! Some materials will work better than others: a stitched cotton mask was found to be most effective in recent research, and ideally the fabric should be boiled to disinfect, meaning you should choose colors that won’t bleed. As always, be sure to check the latest guidelines from health experts when making choices on how best to protect yourself and others. Now, here are some instructions for you to try!

Easy Instructions (no sewing required)

See how easy that was? Share now to spread the mask message.

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Or, maybe you have a sewing machine and are ready to try a more complicated pattern? Here’s one for you… have fun with it!

More Complicated Pattern, But Fun 🙂 (sewing required)

Add a message to your mask

There’s so much to say these days… now that you’ve made your mask, maybe you want to make a statement! You can download ready-made stencils that say #ReuseRevolution#NotDisposable, or #BreakFreeFromPlasticPeople Over Polluters, color in the Greenpeace logo, or even create your own message using these easy instructions.

Look after yourself and others while spreading the message that choosing to reuse is the best way to protect the planet for our long-term health while we deal with the current crisis.

Be sure to wash your mask regularly!

In order to maximise the effectiveness of your reusable face mask, it’s important to wear it properly and keep it clean!

  1. When you remove your mask, put it into a sealable bag or container until it can be washed to prevent the spread of any virus from the used mask. Be sure to wash the container too.
  2. Reusable masks should be washed with soap between uses, and ideally boiled in water for at least 5 minutes to disinfect. Washing with detergent at a temperature of 60℃ or higher is also effective.
  3. It’s a good idea to have several masks that can be rotated out, so a clean one is always available.
  4. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly once you are done washing your mask.

Share with others

Take a photo of yourself wearing your new mask, upload to social media with #BreakFreeFromPlastic, make it your profile pic and send this page to your friends and family so they can get in on it too!

More tips on making reusable face masks

If you’re still hungry for more ideas, here’s blog where we’re collecting more ideas for inventive ways to make environmentally friendly masks, including a method using a tee shirt and another using a sock. How to make an upcycled reusable fabric covid mask and avoid plastic pollution.