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March 2020 News

The demand for the facial mask!

fitted fabric face mask

This new year and decade 2020 has disrupted our way of living in a way that we just didn’t see coming. Social distancing for one is now a global necessity in an active stop to having the COVID19 virus spread indiscriminately fast. The facial mask or masking of the face has become a daylight accessory of necessity overnight. An extremely high turnover of the demand for facial medical masks has shown face to criminal disruption in medical facial masks being stolen from hospitals.
One of the recent articles I read on facial mask theft is of a theft on Tues 17 th March, a report on a theft of 50 thousand protective face masks intended for medical clinics in Cologne, Germany. The report continues across various cities across Germany reporting theft of medical clothing, sanitisers, gloves, disinfectants, respirators from children’s intensive care unit looking after many young cancer patients.

facial mask

As you continue to scroll through headlines, you see the demand of the facial mask as one of the most important commodities as a resultant from the global crisis. Various countries, from Australia to Ukraine to France. There is a certainty of a new stress that we need to survive without possibly having access to goods as we usually consume. Businesses at every level of social interaction has had to control and limit interaction of human beings in a workspace as responsible citizenship in response to social restrictions and required social distancing. Small and medium size businesses have had to reboot how and possibly what they trade as business equity in this environment so having to robustly adapt product and value to respond in innovation to the global impact of this human crisis point. Upcycle has in response to critical measures required, through its innovation hub of Upcycle Creative, quickly restructured its resources, capacity and redistribution of staff to work at home. Innovation of creating new products from the core principal of the Upcycle way – utilising waste products that would usually make landfill because of branding right restrictions and the cycle of waste product in the consumer behaviour ecosystem. Upcycle sanitises / de-brands corporate waste stream and redistributes into the economy by developing products and projects that feed social impact in development and enterprise. Redirecting and; minimising the impact on the environment while creating social equity and community dignity. In response to the global crisis and the redistribution of focus on innovation, Upcycle has prototyped and redirected business capacity to introduce two alternate facial mask covers. Both these facial mask options are made from cotton T shirts that are part of a landfill avoidance project that Upcycle handles sanitisation / de-branding processes for. These cotton T shirts are new, virgin material, not worn before, but branded

excess product. Upycle’s sanitisation of this product is to de-brand the material and innovate new products through the innovation hub and filter this product development into the training utilities available in communities to produce a new product stream. The first option is known traditionally as a “buff”. The primary use for the buff is for cyclists that avoid insects from going into the mouth whilst cycling. Upcycle introduces the traditional buff as an interface reminder of the social distancing that is required to stop the fast track spreading of the virus. It is worn over the mouth and the nose, leaving your eyes exposed for vision. We are sociable beings and we believe that this buff as a social reminder as a facial mask will enable an effective level of preventative masking as a whole.

cotton cycling buffs

buffs

The second option as a facial mask is the Upcycle facial mask made from virgin T shirts. The traditional resemblance of a medical facial mask, with material enclosing the mouth and nose area and neatly tied around the head behind the ears is the most popular go to for facial covering. The process of prototyping around the concept of facial masks showed an undeniable need for the traditional facial mask that represents the medical mask. Upcycle has placed resources aligned to the making of these facial masks. The design to fit aspect of the Upcycle facial mask has maximised on a good fit of the mask around the nose and mouth. The shaping is defined to easily wrap around the contours that fold around these areas. The fit is comfortable and is easy to place on the face.

The facial masks are mostly a reminder of the absolute necessity of social distancing as we embrace a different way of living and behavioural adjustments required for the safety of people at every level. The larger impact of this project is through the innovation of the business operations at this stage of quarantine adjustments. The sewing centre (usually set up at Upcycle), has been moved to each of the workers homes. Sewing machines have been distributed and the Upcycle facial mask is in full production. This is the only way that a business like Upcycle and many others can continue surviving safely and; pay their staff from the support of the new product line innovation. It is during this time of global crisis that the understanding of thinking local deepens even further into the reality of what this could possibly mean for small and medium businesses from now and for a few months. The support of your local small and; medium size businesses is more critical now than ever before. Thinking local is now doing local by supporting the trusted businesses around you and in so ensuring that the important role these businesses play in economic flow in a community is continued. The pressure for the entrepreneur, small businesses and the self-employed is compounded now.

When you buy into a locally produced product, especially in response to drastic measures, you are buying into the whole chain of design thinking and innovation it takes to continue on this business model of change management.

The Upcycle facial masks are available to order directly from Upcycle by emailing winnie@upcycle.co.za.

fabric face masks Progress on donation can bee seen on the upcycle page