The face mask has quickly become the staple accessory for navigating the universally disdained “new normal” brought on by the challenges of Covid-19. With Dublin now under Level 5 restrictions and uncertainty clouding our expectations for the coming months, the face mask is one of the main long-term weapons in the universal artillery against the spread of coronavirus and, consequently, a daily feature of our wardrobes. We’ve all seen the bright yellow signs outside of public transport stops, retail shops, salons, and most indoor College facilities: face coverings are mandatory.
Now, as much as we all have come to appreciate those powder-blue surgical masks that served the populus so bravely in these critical times, it’s time to look into alternatives for college. A small investment in one or two reusable cloth face masks certainly seems like the most sustainable, stylish, and comfortable choice. Particularly with the challenge of conscience environmentalism in the time of a pandemic, in which sanitizer and plastic wrap act as necessary evils to limit contamination of products, any chance we have to opt against single-use products is one we should readily take. Purchasing a few go-to reusable masks, as opposed to going through boxes of disposable ones, will also be far more cost-effective in the long run.
Supporting small Irish businesses has never been more essential, and, in this effort, we have compiled a list of retailers selling reusable masks online and in Dublin city for when Level 5 restrictions lift.
Online shopping has emerged from this pandemic as the dominant method for the sale and purchase of clothing, particularly given the recommendations to limit trips into physical shop spaces.
Our first featured mask retailer is a small scale online shop that goes by the endearing moniker, The Owl One, after Mary O’Reilly, a volunteer with the Tramore Hospice Support Group who handmakes each mask. Selling a wide range of reusable cotton masks at a reasonable €9 a piece, Mary donates €2 of every ask sold to Waterford Hospice in collaboration with the Irish Hospice Foundation.
From the founders of Irelands Eye Knitwear, Face It was started as a way to upcycle donated cotton fabric into reusable masks to be sent to local nursing homes, clinics, and other frontline workers. After consistent demand from their base of knitwear customers, the company began selling their masks and have now rearranged their entire knitwear production factory to focus on crafting these face masks. Face It offers a variety of floral, solid, and other patterned masks at around €13 each, with a surprise “Lucky Dip” option for only €6.50.
Created in an effort to stimulate Irish industry during the pandemic, Irish Made Masks designs and produces three-layer cotton masks in Dublin. This retailer has one of the wider ranges as far as style and pattern, with prices varying from €10 to €22. They even offer custom embroidered masks.
A textile company based out of Smithfield, Irish Linen House had to close their local storefront as a result of Covid-19, but they have since prioritised the production of reusable face masks over all other products. These masks can now be purchased from their online shop. Their range of face masks feature simple designs made from 100% sustainably sourced Irish linen and, as a nice bonus, come with free shipping within the Republic of Ireland. Jumping on the much-needed good-samaritan bandwagon, Irish Linen House are sending a percentage of the proceeds from their mask sales to Depaul and The Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People as well as frontline healthcare workers and other small businesses in their own Smithfield and Stoneybatter neighbourhood.
We Make Good is a Dublin-based social enterprise offering cloth masks made by employees of The Textile Studio — a charity which provides jobs and training to women from refugee backgrounds. Made clear on their website, all masks are made remotely by workers with appropriate PPE and are not touched again until they reach the consumer to prevent any possible contamination by an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19. In partnership with the Irish Refugee Council, each mask sold by We Make Good donates a percentage of profits to someone living in Direct Provision. They also offer a €25 deal, which offers a washable mask while donating a mask to someone in Direct Provision. A full range of these masks is available on their website, but if you find yourself in the D6 area, you can pop into April and the Bear just off Rathmines Road, where they sell We Make Good masks for €16 each.
If you need a Covid-friendly excuse to get out of the house when Level 5 restrictions end, you can journey out to a number of shops in Dublin carrying reusable masks.
One of Dublin’s favourite health food shops, Health Matters, has started offering washable cotton masks for under €5. These can be found in their Grafton Street shop as well as in the Crumlin, Clondalkin, Citywest, and Bray locations. If you are trying to limit your treks into the real world, however, you can still support Health Matters and purchase these reusable masks on their website.
Just across from Trinity on Nassau Street, Kilkenny Shop is now selling a range of Irish-made face coverings with several prints and styles on offer. Kilkenny Shop also offers shipping for online orders.
Pop into Foley’s Chemist on Parnell Street for a variety of reusable face masks. These masks are very affordable, largely ringing under €5. Foley’s range of masks can be also purchased online, and, due to the medical nature of these accessories, most local pharmacies are now carrying options for reusable face coverings.
If all else fails, pick a reusable mask up at your nearest Lidl or Tesco!
A face mask may not have been everyone’s ideal fashion statement for the new college year, but if we take it as another way to make the most of a troubling situation, we might just be able to save arts block septum piercings from months of screening. For official guidelines on mask-wearing, mask-washing, and other social distancing recommendations, check the HSE website pages for Covid-19.