© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Reusable or disposable face masks: Which is worth the cost?

Elizabeth Robinson
Handmade Face Masks
Handmade Studio's Reusable Face Masks  Gerrit Gray

Christchurch residents are outraged by the price of disposable, single-use face masks. Luckily, Handmade Studio is providing an eco-friendly, and bank-friendly, alternative.

PAK'n'SAVE Moorhouse had no disposable face masks left in stock on the first day of Covid-19 Alert Level 2, while other supermarkets such as New World and Countdown are charging about $50 for 50 disposable masks. 

FoodStuffs NZ, owner of PAK'nSAVE and New World, have over eight million face masks in their supply chain. A spokesperson from the company said if a customer's store is low or out of stock, "please rest assured that more stock is on the way." 

Brenda Miler, 70, said face masks were over-priced.

"It would be difficult, especially if you have three or four people in your family. You would just go through them," she said, adding that $50 was a lot for people to spend.

"I thought they would be about 20 cents each." 

A spokesperson from Countdown said, "We're not making a profit on Face Masks. There is huge global demand for masks at the moment which is putting pressure on prices, and we also have costs such as transport and labour to cover which we take into account in our prices." 

Countdown has put a limit of one per customer on masks to help discourage people from stockpiling and manage demand. 

Hannah Doherty has three children under the age of five, and for her, buying single-use face masks is not a cheap task. 

"I would definitely use reusable ones rather than pay that; that's a bit expensive", she said. 

Some said that if it came to it, they would most likely just wrap a scarf around their face. Others say they would rather pay slightly more for masks that they can re-use. 

Handmade Studio is a charitable trust for people with disabilities, and most workers are volunteers. They specialise in the creation of coats, stuffed toys, and it's newest addition of face masks. 

Due to Covid-19, the adults with disabilites who usually help in the creation of product are unable to work, and the studio have found themselves under-staffed. 

The company began creating masks for people within the company who had underlying health conditions. They are now selling them to others in the community at a cost of one for $8, or three for $20. 

Handmade Studio staff member, Tori Penden

The Studio is currently taking orders by contacting them through their website, or by going in-store to 166 St Asaph Street in Christchurch. 

The workers aim to complete the face masks for the following day, however the wait is expected to increase as demand is beginning to rise.