Treehugger: Build a transparent face mask out of a soda bottle
Industrial designer Mark Sanders shows us his new improved design.
Earlier in the coronavirus crisis, we showed a design for a face mask and shield you could make out of a soda bottle. Now the industrial designer, Mark Sanders, tells TreeHugger that the design has evolved:
Now mask use guidance is much clearer – they DO have real benefits in preventing spread, mainly from asymptomatic carriers. So just like used for years in the Far East, the West is now accepting masks: ‘to protect you from me’. I hate waste and especially plastic waste, and yet still love Ginger Beer so I’ve done a new *clear* mask – “See Me, Protect You” to “share emotions and expressions but not C-19.”
This design doesn’t cover the eyes and doesn’t have a hose; it is not an attempt at making a fully sealed respirator mask, but instead is designed to prevent most droplets from passing freely between people. There is really not much to it, and it looks a lot more comfortable that the previous model. In lieu of covering the eyes, Mark recommends glasses or sunglasses for eye protection.
What I particularly like about this mask, compared to a cloth mask, is that you can, in fact, see facial expressions, although in this photo I do think Mark gives us too much information. It’s also likely that my iPhone will actually open with face recognition– Mark says that facial unlock works with his Android phone.
Also, Mark notes that “faces vary in size, so these instructions are for a large size and a small size (me and my wife), but please adjust sizes and folds to make comfortable.”
The first mask was very controversial; at first, we called it a respirator, which it actually is, but people confused it with a ventilator and complained that we shouldn’t be presenting this as a medical device, which we weren’t. But now the situation is much clearer; everyone is making masks, and the understanding that their purpose has changed: “Much is unknown about the spread of C-19 so this, other masks, shields, and visors cannot guarantee to stop its spread, but this aims to help reduce it.”
Thoughts about their effectiveness have changed too; six weeks ago, the advice was, “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection.” But in places like Hong Kong or Japan, full of crowded cities with crowded subways, the virus has been controlled. According to Vox, “Not wearing masks in Hong Kong is like not wearing pants nowadays.”
On May 13, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias also pointed out that in April, researchers at the University of Hong Kong and in Europe calculated that if 80 percent of a population can be persuaded to don masks, transmission levels would be cut to one-twelfth of what you’d have in a mask-less society. However, that study has yet to be peer-reviewed.
In North America, masks were really not socially acceptable, although according to Mark Gollom of the CBC,
Societal attitudes in Canada and the U.S. toward wearing masks in public as protection against COVID-19 have undergone an “unprecedented’ shift in just a matter of months, some social psychologists say. “As somebody who studies social norms, it’s astonishing. It’s like a flip in a blink of an eye in terms of this change,” said Catherine Sanderson, a social psychology professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
The beauty of Mark Sanders’ mask is that it is totally transparent. For those concerned that it isn’t going to really stop the virus from traveling through the hole in the bottom, he’s also designed a filter you can add to it. Mark is sharing his design with anyone who wants to make their own; get your pdf of instructions here.
Cloth masks/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
I now wear a cloth mask when I go out, purchased from a neighbor who sells them on her street corner, with all proceeds going to a food bank. It’s exciting and inspiring to see how this has turned into a cottage industry, and how they have become socially acceptable so quickly.