In order to face the shortage of masks that also affects Italian health care personnel, the Maeko brand had the idea to create washable and reusable hemp masks.
We were scared by the idea that we were all making improper use of disposables and that after this dramatic event, we also had to deal with all the waste produced, such as uniforms, masks, gloves, etc., a disaster,” explains Cinzia Vismara de Maeko, noting that: “Between us, I thought there would be solutions. One day, via Facebook, I saw some videos of old doctors explaining how they had once made cloth masks that were then washed at 90 degrees and reused. And then I started talking about it.
From the idea, prototyping quickly followed. “We decided to use the hemp we had in stock, but as we had no elastic bands and the haberdashery was closed, we had to improvise. So I got in touch with a cousin of mine, who works as a doctor in a hospital in Cagliari, whose father had had a sailing workshop for years. I sent the fabric and started working on the first masks that my cousin took to the hospital. Our initial idea was to sell them, but after discovering that in Cagliari, in the hospitals, there weren’t even paper masks, we decided to give them away and send more cloth”.
Comfortable, washable and waterproof masks
These hemp masks are made with two layers of fabric and another layer of thick and light spinnaker veil. The result is a comfortable, washable and waterproof face mask.
It should not be forgotten that hemp is a naturally antibacterial fabric. Its first result is that dirt and bad smells proliferate less”, Cinzia reminds us.
The nursing staff was very satisfied. We also supplied the fabric to a customer in Milan who made another small production, part of which was sold to private individuals and the other part was donated. The wonderful testimony of a pharmacist is that after the whole day they used our masks, they confirmed that they didn’t smell the smell of saliva, whereas with paper masks it was very strong.
The idea was born thinking of not contaminating further with waste when using disposable masks. And in the end, it is perfectly aligned with the qualities of hemp.
Several studies have shown the natural antibacterial properties of hemp, which are also transferred to fabrics made from this plant. According to a 2014 study, substances in hemp reduce the spread of certain bacteria: “Some natural fiber plants, such as hemp, are considered to have antibacterial activity against a wide range of pathogenic bacteria” in which “the antibacterial character could be conferred by cannabinoids, alkaloids, other bioactive compounds or phenolic lignin compounds”.
Another study, also from 2014, highlighted the antibacterial qualities of hemp shavings against Escherichia coli bacteria.