The pandemic has led to a huge lifestyle shift and in the bid to stay safe, the environment is suffering from the excessive use of plastic to wrap items, chemicals to sanitize, and the millions (or billions) of single-use PPE that eventually contribute to pollution. There are photographs of medical masks floating in the ocean with the animals and washing up on beaches is a heartbreaking sight. To bring this issue to light, designers Tobia Zambotti and Aleksi Saastamoinen created Coat-19, an icy blue puffer jacket made of discarded single-use masks, organic wool, and transparent recycled laminate.

The designers are based in Iceland that still has a mask mandate. Icelandic winds can be very strong so masks that aren’t carefully discarded blow from the streets into the otherwise pristine environment. To prevent this from happening they collected around 1500 light-blue masks from the streets of Reykjavík, thoroughly disinfected them with ozone gas, and shipped them to Helsinki where they became an unusual filling for “Coat-19” – a modern puffer jacket that highlights this absurd pandemic-related environmental issue.​

Most of the disposable masks available in the market are made with a thermoplastic called polypropylene which is also used to produce poly-fill, the most common acrylic stuffing for cheap down jackets – same material, same function, different look. Some of the light-blue masks were partly filled with organic cotton wool in order to create the puffy silhouette of the trendy oversized jacket.

The outer layer is a semi-transparent breathable and waterproof laminate based made from bio-sources that let the disposable masks be visible.​ There are about 1500 masks that make the filling along with organic cotton wool. While the sight is jarring, it is a reminder we all need to practice safety sustainably. We may come out of this pandemic or learn to live with it, but the climate crisis is not something we can solve with a shot. This is a plea to use alternatives if possible so that your safety in the present doesn’t compromise on the future of the planet.

Designer: Tobia Zambotti and Aleksi Saastamoinen

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