• The Crestiad

The debate over reusable masks vs. disposable masks

Erin Slack, a junior at Cedar Crest College, sitting at the Quad wearing her preferred mask. 

Photo by Antoinette Iannacone

Antoinette Iannacone


Masks have become an everyday routine since the start of COVID-19. For many people, this is their first time ever wearing one. When putting on a mask, we must consider the pros and cons of reusable versus disposable masks. 

“I like using reusable masks because they last longer and are typically much more comfortable,” Mia Carter, a junior at Cedar Crest College, majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology, said. “The disposable masks are a bigger threat to wildlife than the reusable masks.”

Disposable masks cause a great threat to wildlife such as animals getting entangled within the plastic or animals eating them, thinking it’s their prey. In fact, disposable masks take up to 450 years to decompose and completely disappear from the environment.

“I prefer reusable masks because they create less waste, you can wash them and know for sure they’re clean, and you will save money because you don’t have to buy a lot of them,” Erin Slack, a junior at Cedar Crest College, majoring in Psychology and Art, said. 

Disposable masks also cause a threat to people when they’re not thrown away properly. The virus can stay on a disposable mask for up to seven days so it’s important to dispose of them properly. However, there is a time to wear a disposable mask and a time to wear a reusable mask.

“Disposable masks would be better in a clinical setting to avoid contamination,” Carter said. “Reusable masks would be better for daily life because you’re not constantly interacting with sick people.”

Reusable masks are good to wear daily because they catch droplets that are released when a person is talking, coughing, or sneezing. You can wash it regularly and wear it again without buying a new one. Disposable masks are good to wear in a clinical setting as well if a person is sick because it’s better to use a mask once and then throw it away since you are releasing a lot more droplets.

Therefore, it’s important to consider the pros and cons when choosing a mask to wear. 

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