INDIA: One of the major impacts of the pandemic that has been widely overlooked is surgical masks discarded everywhere — from markets to pristine beaches. This problem was noticed by a company, Paper Seed, a social enterprise from the outskirts of Mangaluru in southern Karnataka.
Paper Seed has come up with a face mask which apart from protecting people from the virus, will bloom into a plant when discarded. This creative and environment-friendly idea has made a buzz online but more importantly, struck a chord with the public.
Since 2017, the company has been making various recycled and plant seed goods. When the pandemic hit, the thought of experimenting with masks bloomed. “Masks are essential for humans but they are also creating problems for other species. We see them lying on the streets and ending up in landfills, but forget that it also ends up in rivers and oceans creating irreparable damage to the environment and aquatic life,” founder Nitin Vas told Indian Express.
Vas’s masks are meant for single-use only and once used, should be thrown in the soil and watered, and in a few days’ time will hopefully grow into a plant. Being eco-friendly comes at a cost. At Rs. 25 per piece, each mask is handmade under a laborious process.
The process to create pulp and make sheets takes around eight hours after which it takes another 12 hours to dry. Then each mask is cut out by hand using stencils and finally stitched into the masks that can be worn.
Due to the risk involved, Vas doesn’t want to expand his production despite being overwhelmed by orders. As the masks are not machine-made, the production is kept low and limited to local and regional clients with smaller orders.
Vas is a believer of the Gandhian philosophy, where the core idea is to use sustainable solutions. Profit is not the company’s focus, but to generate employment in and around Pakshikere hamlet of Dakshina Kannada district and harness the power of talented youth, apart from making something eco-friendly.