pile of cloth masks

Pandemic Countdown Week 3: Masks

Remember when the Pandemic started and everybody started making masks? It was a wonderful creative way to do something in the middle of chaos, wasn’t it? I fondly remember the mask I got from our library – pretty fabric, super comfortable, never felt like I couldn’t breathe properly, never fogged up my sunglasses. It wasn’t until we’d all got our mask-legs, that I realized that mask wasn’t very effective. It was single-ply and very loose-fitting. Air (and all its potential viral content) flowed merrily in and out from that mask. As soon as I found a better source of tight-fitting masks, I stopped using the library mask. But do you think I still have it? Of course I do and a whole bunch of other masks that didn’t quite fit right too.

It’s not like we can try them on before we buy them. Masks often come in one-size-doesn’t-fit-all, and you may have bought a pack and then found they were too tight or too roomy. But shoving them on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere doesn’t make them fit you any better.

Pareto’s Principle says 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort and applying that to our favorite topic, 80% of our things are most likely clutter, the remaining 20% are what we love, want and need. You can see clear proof in your closet, where 80% of your clothes quietly collect dust on their shoulders, and you wear the same few clothes over and again.

And so it is with masks. Your collection probably includes quite a few you use and a far greater number you don’t. This week, I’m letting the library mask go and a set of masks that look pretty but are just a tad too small for me. How about you, could you give your mask collection the once-over today?

Where To Donate Masks in Colorado

If there’s nothing wrong with a mask, but it just doesn’t fit you, donating masks is a kind idea. Children’s Hospital is a great place to start. All masks are sanitized before redistribution.


  1. I think a lot of people, once they realized this was going to go on for a while, embraced masks as a fashion statement. This is probably why I enjoyed looking at Jane Austen-themed masks, but didn’t buy them. I’m a practical girl; I own my favorite v-neck T-shirt more than a dozen colors, like a uniform. I similarly have two sets of masks; two black ones from Atoms that fit perfectly and have that sleek goth style and two in my signature color, which one of our colleagues made for me. One of each lives in my work bag, one lives in my purse, and one lives in my car in case I am somehow without my purse. They get washed and returned to where they belong, and generally live in the same space where I keep a lipstick and a compact. But for normal people (that is, not me), recognizing excess, learning to let go, and keeping them tidy are all essential skills. And add me to the list of folks who didn’t know you could redistribute masks.

  2. It’s so funny that you wrote about masks. Just yesterday I started thinking about the “collection” I have. What worked at first, isn’t working so well now. It’s not just that I have my favorites, but also how and where I’m storing them. You inspired me to rethink the mask issue and perhaps do some editing in the process. Seems well timed with spring cleaning that will be here before we know it. Thank you, Lucy!

    1. Storing is another issue, Linda, great point. When they seemed temporary, it didn’t occur to me to figure out optimal storage. Now, nearly a year in and with perhaps another year to go, as Janet mentions, I could stand to be more intentional about the best place and way to store them.

      My daughter’s on campus apartment has a coat hook just inside the front door – the girls hang their masks there. Cute but maybe not the best way to handle it.

  3. Yes, this is a whole new category of “stuff” we need to organize these days. When you have children, you have the ones they like in their size. And then there are girl masks and boy masks. These days they are talking about wearing two mask! We’ve had enough time to figure out what we like best, so focus on making space for those and let the ‘fails’ go!

    1. We definitely have had enough time to figure out what we like best, Seana. I’ve been hearing about two masks too, and hoping it won’t turn out to be a great idea. I’ve found once you have an effective mask, breathing is definitely more difficult, it feels like two masks would make breathing near impossible.

  4. uugg so fed up with the masks but I do wear them when necessary. I usually wear a fabric mask that I bought from Old Navy, while probably not the best I too like Janet Barclay hope we won’t be needing them soon.

  5. This is pretty smart advice! I have slightly more than enough to get from laundry day to laundry day, and I generally save the worst ones to wear only if required. Part of me thinks there’s no point wearing those at all and I should replace them, but there’s a part of me that clings to the hope that I won’t need them much longer.

      1. I just read we may be wearing them for another year so I should probably reconsider.

    1. This feels like a case of appreciating their effort and thoughtfulness and acknowledging that the masks themselves aren’t useful. It was so kind of them, so creative and that doesn’t disappear when the masks do.


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