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Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), in partnership with Rash'R, a company that sells eco-friendly active wear, is making face masks from plastic water bottles recovered from the oceans. PADI Gear

While some people are heading outside in snorkeling masks as makeshift protection, a group of scuba divers is using their social distancing time to help people and the oceans. They're making face masks from plastic water bottles recovered from the oceans, as CNN reported.

The masks are made by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), in partnership with Rash'R, a company that sells eco-friendly active wear.

According to Scuba Diving magazine, one size fits most adults. The masks have five different patterns, are machine washable and double layered. Every mask is packaged with five reusable carbon-activated filters, which last eight hours each. Replacement filters are sold online at various retailers, but not yet by PADI, though it plans to offer them soon.

The masks are not cheap, though. The mask and the five reusable filters are $20.40, according to CNN.

"PADI is not making any profit from the sale of these masks — the price you pay is our actual cost," PADI said, as Scuba Diving reported. "Our driving incentive and hope is that ocean lovers will take precautions for their personal well-being and the well-being of the communities they call home and the ocean they dive."

"We're very much a heart-and-soul organization," said Lisa Nicklin, vice president of consumer marketing at PADI Worldwide to CNN. "We care about the ocean and our diver community, so we wanted to be able to put our hands on our hearts and say that we're not profiting off this difficult time."

The response to the masks has been overwhelming. Right now, they are only available for preorder. PADI also offers a mask for children who are 4 to 10 years old.

So far PADI has received more than 15,000 preorders for masks. The masks are expected to reach warehouses this week for the first shipment.

"We underestimated how popular they would be," Nicklin said, as CNN reported. "I think (consumers) just felt that it was a great thing to do for the ocean while also buying something that they need."

She added that based on the number of current orders, the masks have helped remove and reuse 1,267 pounds of ocean waste.

PADI is not the only ones using recycled plastic to create masks. Float Digital, an online marketing firm based in the UK, used recycled plastic for 3D printing protective masks for healthcare professionals.

"Float Digital are 3D printing face shields for medics and professionals made from recycled water bottles in reaction to the acute shortage of protective wear in the current COVID-19 pandemic situation," the company tweeted.

As Euronews reported, Precious Plastic created a template for making masks out of recycled plastic.

The Berkeley News also featured a Ph.D. candidate who found a way to use recycled plastic to create face masks for healthcare workers in Uganda, a place where personal protective equipment is in short supply.

"The hospitals are woefully underequipped. Most have no face shields for their staff," said Paige Balcom to The Berkeley News. "The main government hospital in Gulu has one oxygen bed, which doesn't even work. It has virtually no personal protective equipment; an N95 respirator is unheard of. One bar of soap is supposed to be used to clean an entire ward for a week."

When handmade, the clear plastic face shields costs 80 cents. When they're machine made, they cost 25 cents each.

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