Since the beginning, I have only used cloth masks that can be washed and worn again, and again. In the first place, I am incredibly frugal (some say cheap, but I say frugal). I don't want to pay for something that gets thrown away. (Same goes for paper plates and such.)
In the second place, and even more important, is the mountains of trash that are created every day with so many people world wide wearing disposable masks and protective gear. This is not about medical workers, this is about everyday people trying to protect themselves and others.
I read an article on Japan Today about what is happening with all these disposable masks. According to the American Chemical Society, around 129 billion disposable masks are being used every month around the world. Masks are made of polypropylene plastic material, elastic, and metal and are heading for the landfills, in addition to littering streets, rivers, and oceans where they can harm wildlife.
Researchers and companies are looking for ways to put used masks to good use. The problem is that so far it is not profitable. It's difficult to disinfect and remove the plastic from the other parts of the mask. There are some companies working to give new life to what is now trash. In Australia, researchers want to transform single use masks into road material. In the US, they are being recycled into benches. In France they are being turned into floor carpet in cars.
I haven't heard of anything being done here in Japan. What do you know or have you heard about all these disposable masks where you live?