While staying at home and social distancing has been a challenge, masks have been our saving grace in limiting the spread and best shot at normalcy in the months to come. VAST, an LA-based surf and streetwear brand, has been stepping up during the pandemic to help both protect our oceans from one-time-use masks and give back to frontline workers.
As the world battles the coronavirus, more and more protective equipment is ending up in our oceans. According to both CNN and BBC, globally we are using approximately 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves every month!! Divers and observers are spotting more of this discarded waste floating underwater, causing problems for wildlife and washing up on shorelines like the beautiful beaches of Los Angeles. It has become a common occurrence in Malibu.
With the market being saturated with single-use or low quality, unreliable masks, VAST founder, Sam Yang, spent several weeks working with PPE manufacturers worldwide to learn what makes the most effective mask for long term use. Read more about that journey here.
As it turned out, the materials used for VAST’s surf line were among the best for masks and it quickly became clear that with the right fabrics to block pathogens and the right construction for air seal, a cloth facemask can be as effective against pathogens as a medical-grade mask. The VAST FM masks are durable, water repellant and antibacterial and are currently available online for $30 in Khaki body with four trim colors to choose from – Black, Coral, Teal, or Navy.
It has been my go-to mask for hiking because it is so comfortable with easy pull strings in the back that stretch like bikini tie material while the mask doesn’t feel like it is suffocating me on hikes – especially with heavily trafficked trails or areas where I know I need to keep a mask on. When I know I have to be anywhere with a mask on for long periods of time, this is the only mask I can handle wearing; plus the coral lining color is fun and cute.
VAST’s cloth masks help to ensure that there is no shortage of medical masks for frontline workers while giving the general public access to a similar level of safety and protecting the environment so the community can continue to enjoy our beautiful oceans.
In addition to this initiative, VAST has partnered with local hospitals to launch an initiative to benefit essential workers. For every mask purchased, VAST is donating a cozy item to hospital staff, including Martin Luther King Hospital here in Los Angeles, so they can rest and recoup post-shift. Items include sweatpants, sweat shorts, sweatshirts, long sleeve shirts, t-shirts, and socks.