The collateral damage in the fight against the spread of COVD-19 has been significant. But efforts to flatten the curve are creating a particularly specific problem: medical waste, specifically coming from one-time use face masks. In Wuhan, China alone, one report indicated hospitals were generating 270 tons of medical waste daily during the peak of the outbreak. With the virus now gone global and the CDC’s recommendation that everyone wear a mask, the amount of waste is only going to increase.
This has led to a cottage industry of handmade, reusable masks, many of which you have no doubt seen making their way across your social media timelines. The homemade mask thing is like this moment's victory garden (although these are coming back, too). Bands are turning merch into masks. Curated outdoor brands are getting into the game. We even gave you a handy little guide on how to transform all that coffee swag you’ve accrued over the years into a CDC-approved facial cover. You will remember homemade masks forever.
But for those looking for something a little more stylish while staying on brand—assuming that brand is coffee—then the folks at ShoeX have just the solution for you: a reusable face mask made from coffee.
Called the AirX, the new face mask from the Vietnam via Canada-based company is touted as “the world's first ever coffee mask” and is reusable, 100% vegan, biodegradable, and antimicrobial. It has obtained AATCC 100 certification, “the textile industry's standard for antimicrobial fabric performance in the United States.” Per Yahoo Finance, the coffee component of the mask comes in two forms: the coffee yarn using “Powerknit technology” that comprised the mask itself as well as the biodegradable air filter insert, made with “silver nanotechnology and coffee” and meant to withstand 30 days’ use.
“AirX is not just a recommendation to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but preserve the planet as well,” states ShoeX founder Thanh Le. “The face mask deserves to have a longer life than just one-time use. Eco-friendliness, according to us, is not the only selling point of AirX because we all need to take it by default, as a proactive step towards cleaner living habits.”
To top it all off, they are actually quite smart looking, not that I don’t love my DIY-Counter-Culture-bandana-wrapped-around-a-ghastly-unbleached-Chemex-filter look. Available in five colors—white, black, grey, blue, and of course coffee brown—the AirX masks are as much accessory as they are necessity, which is all we can really hope to ask for in this topsy turvy world. And ShoeX isn’t stopping with just the AirX masks. Per Yahoo, Thanh Le unveiled their next development: the AirX N95 reusable coffee masks, which will be “launching soon to the demanding market.”
Available via ShoeX's official website, AirX masks come in a pack of five for 445,000 VNĐ ($19 USD). Maybe it's the stylish design or perhaps being cooped up has me itching to buy literally anything or maybe I'm just acclimating to what is going to be the new normal for the foreseeable future, but the for first time in a long time, my initial thought when I saw these masks was, “God I want that.” Maybe there's hope for some normalcy yet.
Images via ShoeX