Disposable masks are necessary during COVID-19. But we’re burning through them at an astounding rate. Every minute we throw away 3 million masks, which adds up to 129 billion per month. To make matters worse, most of these masks are made of plastic fibers, which are more prone to break down into microplastics than plastic bags or water bottles.
But what if we could just bury a mask when we’re done wearing it and know it wouldn’t wreck the planet?
That’s the plan for a new initiative by designer Marianne de Groot of the Dutch design firm Pons Ontwerp. Called Marie Bee Bloom, it’s a biodegradable mask that’s made from layers of rice paper (or paper created with a mixture of rice, water, and sometimes other natural starches). Not only can you bury it in the ground once you’re done wearing it, but the mask will also grow flowers: Inside the rice paper there are flower seeds that can sprout under the right conditions.