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That’s the concern of Penang environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, who said the disposable masks would take longer to degrade.

“Each mask costs about 60 sen, amounting to RM1,800 a day and about RM54,000 a month.

Vibes Wear's 4-ply cloth facemask with anti-bacterial certification would not only save money but be much better for the environment as well.


"We know the virus (Covid-19) can survive in water too."

Due to this, she said, people who picnic at a beach or by a river would have a greater chance of contracting the disease.

"In the sea, face masks could get stuck in corals or remain among other waste on the ocean bed, creating a toxic environment."

Chemicals contained in the masks are a potential threat to our environment. In addition to non-woven fabric and activated carbon, medical face masks also contain large amounts of polypropylene (PP), which is a type of commodity plastic that takes a long time to degrade and releases lot of toxic substances during the process.

As all face masks sold on the market must go through rigorous quality testing, it’s fair to assume that these masks won’t break down easily, and their disposal will only create negative impacts on our environment and ecosystems.

Divers had found what of the organisation described as “Covid waste” – dozens of gloves, masks and bottles of hand sanitiser beneath the waves of the Mediterranean, mixed in with the usual litter of disposable cups and aluminium cans. 

According to Malaysia’s ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, more than 115 million single-use face masks were distributed in the period from January to August 2020. That is millions of masks thrown away every single day.

Coronavirus waste has become a new form of dangerous pollution as single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) floods our ocean. The World Economic Forum explains why high quality, reusable masks like ours, is an urgent responsibility upon us all.

The World Health Organization has an excellent resource page providing details on the importance of face masks, how to wear them and wash fabric masks like ours. 

The resource page also provides an excellent explanation of why a minimum 3-layer fabric mask (ours is a 4-layer, hydrophobic fabric mask) is essential in reducing exposure risk from an infected person whether they show any symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

The Vibes Wear face mask is a 4-ply fabric face mask with hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties. The World Health Organization highly recommends a minimum of 3-ply fabric masks for all public space use.

The great advantage of reusable fabric masks like ours is that it helps reduce pollution from single-use masks and therefore contributing to environmental sustainability. Dr. Jocelyn Songer provides and excellent summary of information about WHO recommendations.