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Unmasked: Freedom for the Vaccinated or, Can We All Rejoice

Posted by Delmeshia Haynes on

One year, masks are a sign of obedience, good hygiene and neighborly consideration. Plastic pleated masks, fancy prefix 95s, homemade budget masks, or the well tailored fabric ones like Tafari Wraps’, no matter your opinion on the efficiency of masks, safety of inhaling your own CO2 or what even brought about the panic to own and wear these face coverings here in the USA, it is safe to say that today, a year later, masks are the scarlet letter of the unvaccinated and ultra nervous.


This time last year, business was booming! Orders for masks grew so much that we contracted a local tailor to meet demands and lifted the pressure off of Imani’s body by going into manufacturing. It was great. We saw our first bout of profit, shared the wealth and had your nose and mouth guarded behind our beautifully detailed double layered fabric pleated ankara masks, and triple layered linen shelled masks. Many of you even returned throughout the months when your loved ones lost theirs, friends complimented yours, or you simply needed to diversify your collection #masksarefashiontoo

 

Supernova Fabric Mask with Tie Straps

At this point in the pandemonium, masks were very much about embodying personal style as they were about abiding by often wavering rules, unsure science and safety expectations. Who really knew what was going on? Do we in fact inhale carbon dioxide when masked? Is one type of mask more efficient than the other? What’s up with these Star Wars shields? Does style even matter when the world’s leaders are shepherding us into a panic?


I’ll leave it to you to discern your truth but I will say, I have a mask for every outfit and especially love the ones with the tie strap. Supernova is my fave! 


To date, with the mask mandate lifted in all but 21 US states/territories, to wear one outdoors or while in the checkout line of these newly liberated states is a loud proclamation to be read as  a) not having been vaccinated  b) a lost of trust in one’s fellow citizens or, dare I say, c) uncertainty over the benefit of the CDC’s recommended pricks. 


Hopefully, you are confident in your decision either way you swung and no matter that decision, what is known is the inevitable damage of disposable masks on the environment. In a March 10, 2021 publication written by Birgitte Svennevig of the University of Southern Denmark, it was noted that disposable masks- you know the ones, they’re blue and every time you step into a new wing at the hospital they request you to take one of theirs because the one at the front desk wasn’t good enough!, yea those- will have a grave impact on the environment. Yes, the fancy prefix 95s too. 


While data on mask degradation is still out to lunch with long-term effects of the vaccine- do you think they’re vegan?, it is clear that "...like other plastic debris, disposable masks may also accumulate and release harmful chemical and biological substances, such as bisphenol A, heavy metals, as well as pathogenic micro-organisms” posing an indirect adverse impact on living beings, says Environmental Toxicologist Elvis Genbo Xu. 


Oh the irony. The first 6 months of the year within a year, we heard about rivers that hadn’t flown in years finding source, animals returning home, and a general happy baby pose mother nature was re-centering into, but now with scientists like Elvis Genbo Xu looking at the big picture, concerns about the effects of those flimsy blue plastic masks and their bustier 95 cousins are growing. Svennevig cites, “the enormous production of disposable masks is on a similar scale as plastic bottles,” a startling estimate of “43 billion per month!” Now math may not be my strong suit, but that’s a lot of freaking plastic particles to account for with no real means to an end.


So, do we want to heal the planet, or nah? Is it like a peak-a-boo game where the truth hides in plain sight but because the seeker lacks the “titles'' and “degrees” to speak, we must instead feign ignorance? What’s really going on here? 


Fortunately, Elvis and co-researcher Zhiyong have some suggestions to curb this problem and yes, “replace disposable masks with reusable face masks like cotton masks” is in their top three.

 

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Facts Via: University of Southern Denmark. "Face masks and the environment: Preventing the next plastic problem." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210310122431.htm>.