Hemp as a textile material for the production of masks for health personnel is the idea of Maeko tessuti, who has already started to give the first prototypes to doctors and nurses on the front line against emergencies. The virus and the return to self-sufficiency have also triggered a positive creative journey, like that of two Italian companies to meet the need for reusable sanitary equipment.
In the emergency caused by the spread of the coronavirus, two Italian brands Miroglio Group d'Alba and the Maeko fabrics, started producing cloth masks to cover one of the emergencies created by covid 19.
“We were scared by the idea that we were all misusing the disposable and that, after this dramatic event, we would also have to deal with all the waste produced such as gowns, masks, gloves, etc: 'Between me , I thought there would be solutions. One day on Facebook I saw a few videos of old guard doctors telling me how they made sheet masks which were then washed at 90 degrees to be reused. And then I started talking about it ”.
From there, the first prototypes were made in a short time. “We decided to use the hemp we had in stock, but since we didn't have rubber bands and the haberdashery was closed, we had to work hard. So I contacted one of my cousins, who works as a doctor in a hospital in Cagliari, whose father had a sailing workshop for years. I sent in the fabric and started working on the first masks, which my cousin then took to the hospital. Our initial idea was to sell them, but after finding out that in Cagliari, in hospitals, there weren't even paper masks, we decided to donate them and sent more fabric.
At this point an extra step was taken, besides two layers of fabric they added a layer of spinnaker sail (type of sail hoisted at the front of a sailboat), light but very thick. Today, masks are therefore comfortable, washable and waterproof. “We must not forget that hemp is a naturally antibacterial fabric, and the first result is that dirt and bad odors proliferate less,” recalls Cinzia. “The healthcare staff were very satisfied and in the meantime we also supplied the fabric to a customer in Milan who made another small production, part of which we sold to individuals and gave the others as gifts. The wonderful testimony of a pharmacist is that after using our masks all day, they confirmed to me that we could not smell the saliva, whereas in the paper ones, it was very strong ”.
An idea that was therefore born for an environmental reason and to suppress the idea that, "since we are afraid of the virus, we have the right to dirty the planet", blending perfectly with the qualities of hemp.
And there are several scientific studies that tell about the natural antibacterial properties of hemp, which are also transferred to the tissues that are made from this plant. According to a 2008 scientific study, the substances in hemp reduce the spread of certain antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Potentials confirmed by a 2014 revision, according to which: "Certain plants with natural fibers, 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 ”. While another study, also from 2014, demonstrated its antibacterial properties against Escherichia coli.
All of this italian masks will therefore also be sustainable for the environment and cheaper for the consumer. The Miroglio Group will be able to supply the first 15000 masks from Saturday. Maeko, which has always chosen to stand out in the market for the production of sustainable and organic products, using sustainable and biodegradable natural fibers for its fabrics, started producing masks.
These are characterized by the use of fabrics made from hemp and silver or hemp and copper fibers, two naturally antibacterial blends, in line with what the company usually produces. Even these natural antibacterial fabric masks will be washable and reusable for hospital use.