Who would ever have thought that 2020 would have seen such monumental and overwhelming change? It has been the toughest ever year for so many people here in the UK and around the world. It goes without saying that our hearts go out to everyone who’s lives have been touched by the global pandemic.
For Cycle of Good, it’s meant that we’ve worked harder than ever to make sure our charitable trading of recycled products is effective. Our aim is to create sustainable, dignifying employment in Malawi and to help our planet by recycling as much waste as possible. While UK shops closed throughout lock-down, it wasn’t easy. But difficulties often lead to innovation; enter Tim Cross from Project Plan B and an inspirational new partnership that helps to prevent new waste being created as a result of the Covid-19 safety measures.
Tim is an inspirational man, he lived and worked in Malawi in the 1990s and shares our passion for the peaceful, land-locked country. Move forward to 2020 and he’s the leader of a remarkable UK company called Project Plan B. They remove old plastic from the waste stream, helping to keep our seas and oceans clean. They turn all the old plastic back into the building-blocks that can be re-manufactured into fabric. The truly amazing thing, is that this fabric can be recycled again and again with zero waste! Tim being Tim, he took this one step further and worked with HeiQ in Switzerland to coat the fabric with a sustainable HeiQ V-Block antimicrobial treatment- a biocide (silver-chloride) that helps to protect fabric from germs and bacteria… making it ideal to help with the fight against Corona.
With such an amazing fabric available, Tim helped us to spot an opportunity to fairly and ethically produce face-coverings in Malawi and Masiki Face-Coverings were born! We impatiently ordered our first batch of recycled face-coverings to be made in the UK, meaning we could quickly help to address the issue of non-recyclable disposable mask use. But at the same time, we filled a container with fabric, threads, labels and compostable bags to go to Malawi. Once it arrives, our tailors will be training and supporting young apprentices to make the face-coverings; eventually this will create around 100 new placements for women to “learn and earn” making training and employment accessible to the poorest of the poor.
That’s not the end of this remarkable story. Every face-covering we sell will enable us to give one to a Malawian who would not otherwise be able to afford one. We’ve started giving already! By using off-cuts of local wax-print cloth, known locally as chitenge, our tailors have made and distributed over 200 masks to local families in need. Covid-19 did not cause nearly as many health problems in Malawi as it did here in the UK as lock-down restrictions were introduced so quickly. But the economic impact of the pandemic was felt even more keenly; in a country with no welfare state, if you cannot work, you’re in desperate trouble. Local businesses were closed, education settings all closed, and the fledgling tourist industry has been wiped out, this has left a huge number of people desperate for support. A mask may not solve all problems, but it will help and the virtuous process of creating these masks helps even more!