Why Hemp Face Cloth Masks Are The Best Option For Both You & Mother Nature

July 29, 2020

Why Hemp Face Cloth Masks Are The Best Option For Both You & Mother Nature

In the midst of fear lies both opportunity and disaster. We strive for the former.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to terrorize neighborhoods all around the world. 

It’s the end of July, It is still going strong in three of the biggest nations on the earth: India, the United States of America, and Brazil. Of what we know, 16 million people have been infected at the cost of approximately 650,000 deaths. 

There could be more numbers due to testing being ineffective and hospitals being too occupied to allow new patients. It’s terrible. Flouting safety guidelines in the early stages of the pandemic led to greater transmission of this coronavirus.  

 

The good news is that many regions have opened areas to the public, their lockdowns relaxed. The transmission rates have slowed down there. The state of New York, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand are some of these regions with improved conditions. 

Crowds mill about, and normal life has resumed.

But there are “new normal” which any self-respecting citizen should still be aware of. 

The New Normal Of Personal Protective Equipment

All regions that relax lockdowns will have to equip themselves with personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE includes masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer bottles.

Masks are especially important. 

They prevent respiratory droplets from spreading between people in close proximity. Since the WHO has warned of airborne transmission in indoor public spaces, it is vital that we mitigate the spread of the virus through masks. Masks reduce transmission rates by a lot. 

 

What Are Masks Made Of? 

Common materials used for masks are synthetic polymers and plastics, natural fibers like cotton and hemp, and hybrid materials that use both types of fibers.

Synthetic masks are the most effective at combating transmission rates. These are mainly produced for medical workers at the frontlinethough non-medical users also use them if there are enough available. The most famous examples are N95 masks.

Their melt-blown microfiber layer filters most of the air from harmful particles that could be carrying the virus.

 

But the downside to these masks is their single-use, non-biodegradable nature. We disposed of them at a faster rate. And, once disposed of, they are going to exist in the biosphere for as long as 500-1000 yearsunless incinerated. Waste management systems are not equipped to deal with them. Landfills can only cover up the problem, not solve it. 

So how are we to solve the problem, as a global community? 

We need better masks.

What Masks Are Better For Non-Medical Users?

The long term, environmental unsustainability of synthetic masks is why natural fiber masks are recommended to non-medical users. They would reduce the eventual load on the natural environment. This would have certain advantages:

  • Ocean health: Reduces the plastic waste dumped into the oceans daily, helping marine life.

  • Land health: Reduce the plastic dumped into landfills, helping the soil quality, groundwater, and surrounding animal and plant life.

  • Reusability: Natural fiber masks like cotton and hemp are reusable and washable, so are disposed of at a slower rate.

  • Biodegradability: Natural fibers, of course, degrade when disposed of in landfills and waterways. They also recycle without harmful by-products.  

What Is The Better Natural Fiber for Masks: Cotton or Hemp?  

The answer is hemp.

And cotton is not even close. 

 

  • Time Constraints:

    The hemp plant is harvestable within 4 months since seeding. This is twice as fast as the cultivation of cotton plants! This opens up opportunities for farmers. It allows rotation with other crops.

  • Water sustainability:

    Hemp plants use up 25% of the water used for cotton plants. The repercussions for this are immense. If water is saved, the environment stays richer.

  • Antimicrobial hemp:

    Hemp material is naturally resistant to mold and mildew, unlike cotton. This is a point of consideration when choosing something to put over your nose and mouth.

  • Odorless:

    Hemp fabric, with its hollow core making it resistant to microbes, is concomitantly odor resistant. This makes wearing hemp masks ideal, as they don’t give out unpleasant smells that cotton can.

  • Breathability and Water-Resistance:

    Synthetic plastic material will not allow airiness to cool down the face. Hemp fabric allows more breathability. It adjusts the temperature around your face more completely. Hemp also has water-wicking properties that allow it to avoid dampness.

  • Fiber Strength

    The hemp fibers have considerable tensile strength. You can wash your face mask on an alternate day cycle, and it will still maintain its form.

  • Hemp softens in time.

    Hemp is, on average, rougher and coarser than cotton cloth. However, after each wash cycle, it gets after softer. This increases comfort on one’s facial skin.

  • Legislation has opened hemp cultivation in big nations

    Hemp cultivation was restricted in nations like India and the United States. This stifled the production of hemp fabric, letting cotton and other fibers reign over the market. But the 2010s brought about changes in legislation. These nations now seek to use hemp as an alternative to other fibers. Opportunities bloom.   

So what makes a hemp mask optimal?


The Specifics of Hemp Masks

An environmentally conscious user will make sure their mask is washable, mendable, and durable. There are several categories of masks to suit several needs, but there are a few common features that should help you choose the best mask:


  • Wider Surface Area.

    The more surface area on a mask, the greater its filtering capacity to trap and absorb microbes and particulates.

  • Thicker material

    Densely woven and multi-layered masks trump thinner ones. The protective power of a double or triple layered mask is vital in public spaces and densely populated areas. The crowds won’t abate! 

  • Portability

    You will need your mask to fit into a handbag or a shirt pocket. The reason being that sometimes masks get extremely dirty, and you might need a second one as a backup.    

Remember to sanitize your hands after removing your maskand before putting it on.



Washing Hemp Masks


  • Normal process:

    Soak the hemp mask for 20-30 minutes in detergent water. Rinse and wash.

  • Intensive process:

    Should the dirt and grime be of a more intense type, put the mask in boiling water for 30 seconds. Then repeat the above step.


Hemp masks will help you to an extent, but you must remember to social distance as much as possible. The masks can only do so much. It is preferable to avoid contact with other people whenever you can afford it. 


Try To Think About Society and World As a Whole 


As you might have already heard, this pandemic has reminded us that we have to practice selfless motives to keep society and the world stable. We cannot just think about our own benefits. 


Yes, even if the virus has a  4% global death rate, with most deaths being on the older side of the population, it doesn’t mean most of the younger folk can relax in public. It doesn’t mean we cannot transmit it to older people, as carriers.

We must practice caution in every aspect of our lives. We must also think of the overarching environmental repercussions of mask production. We are caretakers of the planet. We have to ensure that the world’s oceans and groundwater prosper in healthy conditions for the recent future. Conservation is the right step. Let’s use the natural fibers given to us! 



Author Bio: Jaspreet Singh is the co-founder of the NGO Hemp Foundation which works for the empowerment of economically challenged farmers in Uttarakhand. He works as a bridge between the people and the business to make the farmers economically grow. He loves to hear their problems to provide them an explicit solution. He is also passionate about adventures tours, trekking, and long bike rides.




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