Should We Make Organic Cotton Face Masks?

Here's the situation.  Coronavirus is in full swing and the tools we have to 'flatten the curve' - slow the rate of infection - are evolving.

This is what we know for sure:

Hand hygiene is essential: a 20 second soap and water hand wash is your best bet, followed by hand sanitizers and other disinfectants.

"Soap is more than a personal protectant; when used properly, it becomes part of a communal safety net. At the molecular level, soap works by breaking things apart, but at the level of society, it helps hold everything together. Remember this the next time you have the impulse to bypass the sink: Other people’s lives are in your hands." 

(The New York Times, Ferris Jar, March 20, 2020)

Social distancing appears to be working: Whether you have symptoms or not, you may be a carrier and as a result, social distancing has become an essential tool for everyone - with or without symptoms.

"There is going to be a natural lag or delay between when you implement successful interventions to reduce the spread of disease and when you see the actual number of reported cases peak or begin to drop. 

So, the first few weeks of social distancing might be discouraging. But I believe that eventually we’ll see the number of new cases drop—thanks in large part to the social distancing we’ve been doing."

(University of Michigan, David Hutton, March 30, 2020)

Wearing a face mask is effective: We know for sure that N95 face masks work best, but they are in limited supply and - for now - it is generally agreed that supplies should be kept for front line workers. 

The natural question that follow is... 

Should we all be wearing masks, and if so, where should we get them, and what should they be made of?

There has been a lot of debate about the wearing of masks - some scientific and some cultural.  The opinions vary greatly depending on the Country of origin.

Chinese Perspective

In China, George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the past 2 months claims that the biggest mistake western countries are making is not ensuring everyone is wearing a mask:

"The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others." 

(Science Mag, Jon Cohen, March 27, 2020)

US Perspective

By contrast, in a February 29th tweet, US Surgeon General, Jerome Adams said:

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

It seems that in recent days, however, the US may be reconsidering its position and encouraging the general public to start using cloth masks, while saving supplies of the hospital grade (N95) masks for front line workers. 

"Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces... according to a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing matter of internal discussion and nothing has been finalized....

The official said the new guidance would make clear that the general public should not use medical masks — including surgical and N95 masks — that are in desperately short supply and needed by health-care workers.

Instead, the recommendation under consideration calls for using do-it-yourself cloth coverings, according to a second official who shared that thinking on a personal Facebook account. It would be a way to help “flatten the curve,” the official noted.

Such DIY cloth masks would potentially lower the risk that the wearer, if infected, would transmit the virus to other people. Current CDC guidance is that healthy people don’t need masks or face coverings." 

(Washington Post, Joel Achengack, Lena H. Sun and Lena H. Sun, March 30, 2020)

How Do You & etee Fit In?

We have several thousand meters of organic cotton fabric that we were planning to use to launch our foodwraps and bags in Europe.  That opportunity has fallen through and our wrap sales have also slowed down in recent months.

As a business, we are surviving the pandemic, but it has had an impact and like many businesses right now we (and everyone who works for us) are vulnerable, so we are considering using our organic cotton fabric for mask production.

We would like to set it up as a buy-one, donate-one offer. where we could both help the larger community by donating the cotton masks to community groups in need (for example, one local hospital is requesting cotton masks for visitors or to use over top of N95 masks) and continue to operate our business. We even plan to be transparent about our profits from the sale of our masks and let people know where those profits go to keep our business running. 

Having reviewed the Science about cotton masks, we are of the opinion that they are a useful tool - not a perfect solution - in slowing the rate of infection.  We believe - for the general population - cotton masks result in a "I protect you, you protect me" situation.

What do you think?  Would you support this project?  Let us know in the comments below. 







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  • Please please do. Thank you.

    Sara Barbieri on
  • Hi Steve,
    If you haven’t seen it already – Mercola video today on why we SHOULD all be wearing them, in case you haven’t seen it. We just need to look at the difference in sread and deaths and flattening of the curves in the countries that have enforced it.
    So, absolutely yes ;)
    Thank you!!

    Vici on
  • I think the buy one donate one is a great idea and would really help encourage people at home to get one while also providing for communities. Those that have mentioned other things that have been causing deaths are clearly ignorant to the facts of this virus and what makes it truly dangerous. I think it’s very important to wear masks in public places, even while socially distancing. Someone could be a carrier and not know. This is about protecting the high risk and immunocompromised population. I know we don’t have enough masks at our house and I would definitely purchase some, especially if it meant that some get donated as well.

    I’m happy to support your business and our communities during this time. Thank you for keeping us part of the conversation! ❤️ Stay well!

    Cassandra on
  • At this point the front lines of this war are our medics providers. I’m a nurse. My friends are being intubated at the hospital. We need everything we can get. They won’t have left to protect our healthcare providers in the near future. I’m in Fairfield county, CT.

    That being said, the question has been whether the surgical masks protect or make any difference or even increase the risk. I’m wondering if adding the beeswax to the fabric may actually be helpful as it may help reduce the ability of the virus to travel through the pores of the masks. If you make a double layered mask w beeswax on the outside this could be helpful. Or just having beeswax over the area that would cover the bridge of the nose and allow the mask to be molded over the nose to create a tighter seal that could be very useful.

    Final answer is 100% yes you should try to use your remaining material to make masks and maybe help decrease the spread and protect people and potentially protect the medical staff. Please do some research about the size of the CoV-19 particles & why they are able to pass through certain fabric pores and not others as this may help guide the design of the masks.

    Thank you!!!

    Erin on
  • No, we don’t need them for Coronavirus.
    Here is why:
    Worldwide deaths from Jan 1 to Mar 25, 2020:
    21,297 deaths by coronavirus
    113,034 deaths by seasonal flu
    228,095 deaths by malaria
    249,904 deaths by suicide
    313,903 deaths by traffic fatalities
    390,908 deaths by HIV aids
    581,599 deaths by alcohol
    1,162,481 deaths by smoking
    1,909.804 deaths by cancer
    2,382, 324 deaths by hunger
    9, 913, 702 deaths by abortion

    There are way too many other things causing death FASTER than coronavirus in this world that we can throw our time and money at to prevent death!

    Reggie on

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