Blooming biodegradable face masks

In response to the growing plastic pollution by single-use face masks, Dutch brand Marie Bee Bloom designed biodegradable face masks made of rice paper, embedded with Dutch meadow flower seeds.

During the pandemic, the use of masks soared, and though cloth face masks can be washed and reused, many people also opt for single-use face masks. The amount of littering with these masks has increased dramatically, and even when properly disposed, the masks are still made of plastic and cause environmental problems.

Graphic designer Marianne de Groot-Pons, the designer of the biodegradable face masks, wanted to do something back for the earth as she says herself, “I’ve also polluted the earth with my designs for prints and packaging”. At the same time, she wanted to bring the ban on single-use plastic from 1 July 2021 back into the spotlight.

The biodegradable masks are made in a Dutch sheltered workshop, consisting of two layers of rice paper, between which are Dutch meadow flowers, including cornflower, baby’s breath, feverfew, petunia, snapdragon and dill. The idea of embedding seeds into paper is not new, but is usually reserved for thicker paper and used as postcards.

The strings to tie the mask behind your ears are made of local sheep’s wool. The initial batch was made with wool that was carded and spun in-house, but because of high demand, they now also use Dutch wool which is machine spun in Sweden, because there is no spinning mill in the Netherlands anymore. The strings are attached to the mask using potato starch-based glue and can be fitted to size with a piece of egg carton shaped like a flower, making the whole mask biodegradable.

The website states that the biodegradable masks offer the same protection as a cloth face mask, though they have not been tested.

Images: Marie Bee Bloom