Better Off Alone is a gender-neutral, sustainable fashion company specializing in biodegradable face masks and other protective gear that does not harm the environment. Cofounder and Asian American Bonnie Poon — who is one of three women of diverse backgrounds leading the charge at BOA — was ready and willing to talk to us about the specifics behind the environmental impact of single-use PPE.
“Most single-use masks (surgical, N95, etc.) are made from polypropylene or polyethylene, which is in essence the same as plastic, so it takes hundreds of years to degrade. When it breaks down, it becomes microplastics that can be ingested by animals, particularly marine life. Many cloth masks contain nylon or spandex, which is better, but has similar aftereffects on the environment,” Poon said.
Instead, BOA bases its designs — which also include jumpsuits and cover-ups, and eventually pajamas — on breathable fabric. The masks in particular are made for people who must wear them for hours on end. From speaking with hospitality and factory workers, the team developed a fit that doesn’t sit against the face and comes with adjustable ear loops and a neck loop, so the mask can’t go far when it’s taken off.
Most recently, Poon’s company added the #StopAsianHate colorway to its vast selection of solids and prints. Fifty percent of all net proceeds from this design are donated to the Stop Asian Hate GoFundMe, which supports grassroots APIA organizations across the country. Fashion designers Dao-Yi Chow of Public School and Phillip Lim showed their support of the masks during a New York City #StopAsianHate march, as friends of the brand fully aware of its philanthropic efforts.
We talked to Poon about the importance of shopping and educating ourselves about Asian-owned businesses and learned how her time in China at the start of the pandemic sparked her efforts to raise awareness through Better Off Alone and its products. Scroll to read her full interview with POPSUGAR, then shop the label’s #StopAsianHate mask.