There’s a wee company in Spain called Closca. Their motto is to inspire change. A few months back they sent me a foldable helmet which I used on my scooter. The review is coming, but I need to wait for scooters to be legal here first. But the helmet is amazing. Closca does think differently. They prioritise design and sustainability, accepting zero compromises. As Covid-19 continues to change the world we live in today, Closca has begun creating sustainable non-medical facemasks amid increased demand globally. I’ve ordered one, so the review is coming. This is just a preview (in the tone of Tenacious D).
Increased Demand For Facemasks
I was walking to the shops in Dublin City during the week and spotted some locals wearing facemasks. The blue mask matched well with the man’s sky blue Dublin jersey. I thought to myself how much the world has changed. Just two months ago, that man would have seen someone from Asia wearing a mask and laughed to himself, despite it being very common in Asia. But now, he won’t leave the house without a protective mask.
Lidl Stocking Non-Medical Grade Facemasks
Today, Lidl announced that they were now stocking non-medical facemasks.
We are introducing face masks for sale from Wednesday 13th May across all stores, sold at cost price.
We've prioritised a quantity for staff use, with the remaining volume going on general sale. These will be sold for €43.30, for a pack of 50. These masks are non-medical grade. pic.twitter.com/uHyZgzqB0E
— Lidl Ireland (@lidl_ireland) May 13, 2020
It’s a measured move from the discount supermarket. They will sell these as “cost price”, are “non-medical grade” and will be limited to one pack per customer. Lidl will sell these packs of 50 as a pack of 50 for €43.30. With these steps, Lidl has moved to meet demand without price gouging or capitalising on public need while also leaving the supply chain of “medical grade” facemasks unaffected.
Increased Interest In Facemasks
To validate that there’s an increased demand for facemasks in Ireland, you need only walk around your local city or town centre. Chances are you’ll spot people wearing some sort of a facemask. With the spread of Covid-19, despite there being no advise from the government to wear masks, people have started to do so. Whether their belief is that they are protecting themselves or others remains unclear. The increased prevalence of facemasks is much more obvious to the eye.
One quick look at Google Trends shows a sharp uplift in people searching for information on facemasks.
Will The Irish Government Make Facemasks Mandatory?
Over 50 countries have made the wearing of facemasks mandatory. Notable European countries making masks mandatory are Germany, France, Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina made mask-wearing mandatory, after the Czech Republic led the way.
Initially, it seemed unlikely there would be a mandatory requirement for facemasks to be worn. Simon Harris said he believed it to be an unlikely scenario. Just this week, this position was again reiterated by Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan, stating guidelines would be issued for wearing of masks in certain situations but that this would be advisories and not mandatory.
While not mandatory, an announcement was made a recommendation the wearing of face-coverings.
Additional Hygiene Measure: Wearing A Face Covering
In a speech confirming Phase One of relaxing restrictions could go ahead as planned, Leo Varadkar announced an additional hygiene measure of wearing a “face covering”. Varadkar highlighted busy public transport and enclosed indoor public areas like retail stores and shops.
The language used here is important. This is a recommendation, so it’s not a mandatory requirement. It also didn’t state that a medical grade face-covering would be required. For that reason, homemade face-coverings are completely acceptable.
Should I Buy A Facemask?
Which leads to the big question. Should you buy a facemask? If what’s been said so far is to be believed, there’s no mandatory need for you to buy a facemask. That said, it looks like most people want to buy masks regardless. I’m genuinely surprised by the number of people wearing masks around the city. I’m even more surprised by people wearing masks who would have previously laughed at others.
All of this stuff combined would suggest that most people, whether mandatory or not, will buy some sort of mask or protective cover.
What Mask Should I Buy?
If you decide to buy a mask for the shop run, there are a few things to consider. First of all, you shouldn’t buy medical-grade masks because you don’t need them. You certainly don’t need them as much as frontline staff or immunocompromised people.
Next, be careful where you buy your masks. Unlike Lidl, many retailers have seen their chance and at flogging masks at huge prices. I passed one city centre store with a hastily handwritten sign offering masks for €2.50. Very similar masks will be available in Lidl for 83c (sold in a box of 50).
Finally, and I really hope this resonates with a large number of people, think about the environment. I refuse to ignore the way we treat our planet and the likes of Covid-19 emerging. It does feel like the planet is fighting back. Even if you think I’m talking non-sense, seeking out a sustainable facemask will save you money in the long term anyway.
After that rather long-winded introduction, it’s time to preview the Closca Mask.
The Closca Mask
So Closca are all about quality, sustainability and rethinking design. We’ve all seen pictures of frontline staff after wearing their disposable masks for hours. They mark their faces, cut their ears and are generally uncomfortable despite doing their job. Also, they are effectively single-use masks and as such generate a huge amount of waste.
The Closca Mask seeks to address most of these issues with their stylish, futuristic and a little bit techie non-medical facemask.
Cloth Mask Design
The Closca Mask doesn’t depend on applying pressure over to ears to remain in place. Instead, it wraps around the back of the head. The mask uses a velcro fastening system which means one mask is adjustable to fit everyone.
The mask itself is soft foldable cloth and comes with a carry pouch. Made from 95.5% Polyester and 4.5% Spandex, not only is the mask comfortable but it’s also washable. Better still, the mask is machine washable up to 60-degrees Celcius.
Closca is also looking towards a world where masks are just a part of everyday life. When ordering your Closca Mask you can personalise your mask. Choose between black, white or grey base colours and then savanna, coral, glacier, beach or nude trim.
Protective masks could quickly become the new plastic straws. We’ve worked so hard to reduce single-use plastics, but now supermarkets wrap more items and we’re throwing away more waste than ever.
The masks aren’t quite Zero Waste, but they are highly sustainable versus single-use PPE. They’re also plastic-free from what I’ve seen so far, but I’ll confirm that. Your mask order includes 6 washable filters. Each filter can be washed up to 5 times. When inserted, the filters avoid direct contact with the face and skin, increasing their durability.
As I said, the mask itself is reusable so immediately you’re doing the environment a favour. This could very well be the best sustainable mask on the market.
Non-Medical Grade Protection
The Closca Mask is a non-medical grade which means you’re not taking masks from those who need them most. Actually, quite the opposite. Closca has created the Health Hero initiative. This means when you buy a Closca Mask you’re also donating 5 medical-grade masks to vulnerable groups.
While the Closca Mask itself is a non-medical grade mask, it is made from high-grade materials. The filters have been made in Spain following official regulations (EN 14683: 2019 + AC: 2019 type 2). The mask itself has a 98% bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE).
The Closa Mask absolutely meets the requirements if you wish to take government advise to wear a non-medical face-covering.
How To Buy The Closca Reusable Facemask
If you want to buy an eco-friendly, reusable and sustainable facemask, it’s hard to look beyond the Closca Mask. To be totally shallow about it all, it also looks cool. Alright? There, I said it.
I’ve ordered my own mask so the review will be along soon. If you can’t wait that long you can build your mask and order it directly from Closca today for €20. That includes 6 filters and you can but a pack of an additional 20 filters too. You’re also supporting those who need medical-grade masks too. It’s all win-win.