The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many issues of waste into the spotlight, starting with the sheer quantity of petroleum-based personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the medical field and by everyday users gearing up to go to the grocery store or park. Designer Alice Potts homed in on this problem early, countering it with face shields made from food waste and flowers.
These face shields required more than just a little research and development. Potts wanted to tackle the issue of plastic-based PPE but approached it by also addressing food waste. Potts said the face shields are biodegradable, because they are a product of food and flowers collected from local markets, butchers and households in the surrounding London area. The variety of organic materials affect the final product, meaning that each mask varies in unique ways.
“Every colour is completely seasonal depending on what flowers are blooming, what vegetables and fruits are growing and earth that is in and around London,” the designer said.
Potts was initially inspired by her brother, a paramedic who reported a lack of PPE for himself and other first responders and medical care workers. So Potts set out to create a more sustainable option intended for the public, because the shields likely don’t offer the same level of protection as required in a medical care setting.
With the recipe for the face shield and a design for the 3D-printed top section, Potts plans to make the template available to everyone via an open-source design.
“I want to combine the advantages of technology with sustainability to form a template of the top of a face shield that can be 3D-printed from recycled plastic with a bioplastic recipe for the shield for people to make at home,” she said.
The Dance Biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment (DBPPE) Post COVID Facemasks, as Potts named them, will be on exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, an event that highlights art, design, and architecture and runs through April 2021.
Images via James Stopforth and Sean Fennessy via Alice Potts