One of the most unfortunate side-effects of the coronavirus pandemic is the massive amount of waste coming from disposable face masks. According to one estimate, the world goes through 129 billion single-use face masks each month during the pandemic.
In an attempt to turn this ecological disaster into something more positive, South Korean designer Haneul Kim has collected thousands of used face masks from his university campus and recycled them to create nifty-looking stools that can be stacked.
To do this, the Kaywon University student installed mask collection boxes on campus and emptied them periodically. Then, after cleaning and quarantining the masks over a period of days, Kim placed them in a mold and melted them using a heat gun. The melted material then gradually built up to create a colorful, sturdy seating design.
According to Kim, it took around 250 masks to form each leg and another 750 for the seat—with the final result requiring no glue or resin to hold it together. What’s especially cool about Kim’s design is that the stools’ marbled white, blue and pink patterns were not derived from added dyes or paints. Instead, those bright colors come from the original masks.
Although these awesome-looking stools won’t solve the waste problem from disposable face masks, Kim hopes to set an example and show the world that, with a little innovation, these masks don’t have to wind up polluting our earth.