Face masks are now part of our daily lives, and are likely to remain so for months, if not years. But while they may be essential in stopping the spread of covid-19, they aren’t particularly friendly for the planet or the oceans. In light of this, a Dutch designer has come up with a biodegradable mask which, instead of ending its life in the street or in the trash, can be planted to bring flowers to your garden. Surgical masks littering the streets of Europe’s capitals has become an image synonymous with the pandemic. As a result, the environment — which had finally made its way onto the agenda of key concerns for people worldwide — has suffered a serious blow. When they aren’t discarded in the streets, face masks are filling up public trash cans and home garbage bags, which isn’t particularly environmentally friendly.
This is an issue that got Marianne de Groot-Pons, a graphic designer with the Pons Ontwerp agency based in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, thinking. To cut pollution linked to mask wearing, the young designer has come up with a 100% biodegradable model. But she hasn’t stopped there. To brighten up these gloomy times, the designer is offering an artisanal-made face mask which, once worn, can be planted in a garden or a pot and grow into flowers. This is possible thanks to flower seeds embedded in the original accessory.
“After weeks of tripping over all the blue disposable masks on the street, I woke up one morning to the idea of a biodegradable face mask with flower seeds in it. Earth happy, bees happy, nature happy, people happy. I sell the mask under the name Marie Bee Bloom. Bloom the world!” explains the creator of these eco-friendly masks on her website.
The mask is made from rice paper and contains flower seeds. Its straps are made from pure sheep’s wool. Even the glue used to attach certain parts is made using potato starch and water. This does, nevertheless, make the mask much more fragile than regular disposable masks, as Marianne de Groot-Pons explains herself, reminding would-be buyers that the accessory should be handled with care.
And, unsurprisingly, they are also more expensive than regular disposable masks. They are priced at €3 (approx. US$3.58) each or, more precisely, from €15 (or approx. $17.88) for five masks. Another important detail is protection. The website states that the Marie Bee Bloom mask potentially provides as much (or as little) protection as a handmade fabric mask, since the mask has not yet been tested to measure its effectiveness against covid-19. That’s certainly something to take into account before placing an order, currently only possible from three countries … for the time being.