sustainable gear for our community
A sustainable shirt yesterday, a face mask today, we’ve switched our focus and started turning Potato Head products into protective gear, by producing masks and aprons for our local community, our staff and waste collectors around Bali.
Equipment shortages for the people managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Bali are increasing. In many hospitals around the island, doctors and medical staff are resorting to wearing raincoats and garbage bags due to a lack of better options. We put our potato heads together to see how we could help protect the workers on the frontline and our local community. Our solution was to make masks, aprons and face-shields out of materials from around Potato Head – so, vinyl from old billboards, say, and fabric off-cuts from our sustainable fashion line.
We asked our Director of Sustainability, Lauren Blasco, to give us the low-down. Here’s what she had to say.
How did you come up with this idea?
With the current COVID-19 pandemic we were brainstorming ideas on how to help protect our staff as well as do our part in the community. Being focused on sustainability, I immediately thought of how waste items could be used to create masks and other protective gear that the community needs. The two most obvious items were our fabric offcuts and vinyl billboards.
Who is involved?
It was a collaborative effort. My focus was on which waste materials were usable and what gear was needed internally and externally as well as collaborating with the vendors for production.
Describe the process – from idea to prototype?
We went from idea to samples very quickly. We identified the materials we had that were usable, where they were located, had the styles and patterns made and received the samples within 24 hours. The styles were then slightly modified from the initial prototypes and a microbial layer/filter was added to meet government standards.
How did you choose which materials to use?
We used the fabric offcuts as well as the vinyl billboards as they were readily available and suitable for production to offer protection to our staff as well as our community.
Have any of your previous learnings contributed to this process?
Part of Sustainism Lab is research and development on waste as well as figuring out solutions to be circular. I’m always looking at our waste streams and what can be done with them. Making the material masks with the microbial layer was a quick and very good use of our waste material, given this pandemic. The vinyl billboards is an area we are always exploring as they are made from heavy and waterproof material. We’ve made some prototypes (bags, pouches and wallets) in the past but seeing all the photos and hearing stories about medical staff not having necessary gear using raincoats and garbage bags triggered the idea to use our vinyl waste to help the community.
About Sustainism Lab
Led by Potato Head’s Director of Sustainability Lauren Blasco, the Zero Waste Hacks are facilitated by our in-house Sustainism Lab team.
Sustainism Lab is a research and design workshop located inside Desa Potato Head which is dedicated to finding innovative solutions to waste. It helps the Desa adhere to a zero-waste philosophy, and drives Potato Head towards becoming a circular brand where every element fits into the three ‘r’s of sustainability—reduce, reuse and recycle. The lab also functions as an inspirational and collaborative space for our physical and online audience, and our industry peers.