A plant-based disposable mask that sprouts plants! It will protect the environment while combatting littering by giving masks a second life.
Target Audience: People who regularly wear disposable masks, people who love plants and/or have an interest in gardening, people who are environmentally conscious, the general public.
Overview: As the use of disposable face masks becomes widespread due to the pandemic, there have been many cases of disposable masks littering streets and beaches. Since most disposable masks are not made of biodegradable materials, not only do they obstruct the landscape, but they also damage our environment. We propose a novel disposable facemask solution that is not only biodegradable and made of plant material but also has seeds embedded to incentivize proper disposal of the masks by turning the mask into a garden kit. Not only will this reduce waste, but it will also benefit the plant population and give people a fun garden to take care of during quarantine. The seeds implanted would be species that are non-invasive, easy to grow, and will accommodate all climates.
Materials: Modified wood husks/paper as the base of the mask, with cotton/paper/fiber filters that are breathable and able to filter out viruses. Ear strings will be made of elastic biodegradable fibers. The base of the mask will be embedded with seeds that are easy to grow and accommodate all climates, such as sunflowers, beans, peas, cilantro, lettuce, and radishes. All material will be biodegradable, able to decompose in about a month.
Technology: The mask can be mass-produced by machinery that presses seed-implanted paper (purchased in bulk) into the base of the mask, and then attaching the cotton filter and finishes other needed assembly parts. This machine needs to be custom-designed and can either be automated or manually powered.
Who will take these actions?
In order to make this idea happen, we need:
- Engineer to build the machine that produces the mask
- Scientist/Health worker to test and quality control the masks
- Accountant to keep financials in check
- Sales Representative to advertise the mask and make it an option for the general public
- Logistics person to handle shipping, and other misc tasks
What are the projected costs?
Estimated cost: Since both the seeds and the plant material used to make the mask does not need to be outsourced, this significantly decreases the cost. Assuming the implementation of an efficient manufacturing process, each mask can cost as little as a dollar each.
- Produce mask design file
- Collect materials
- Create and test mask prototype
- Run over health standards with professional personnel
- Attempt to sprout plants, record data and success rate
- Design machine to mass-produce mask
- Get funding/handle financials
- Registration for logistics purposes
- Prepare shipping and transportation
- Social media campaign, open produce to the public
- Use public feedback to improve product
About the author(s)
Authors are summer UROPs from David Kong's Community Bio Initiative @ MIT. Inspired by Canada Mask (credit: BioProducts Institute, University of British Columbia)