Edmonton students make lasting memories from disposable masks

They say diamonds are forever, but a group of Edmonton high school students might disagree.

The students have launched a Junior Achievement company called Gaia that keeps disposable masks out of landfills and your precious pandemic memories close to you for all time.

The masks are collected at their school’s entrance, donated by other students once they’re done wearing them. They’re sterilized, cut up, melted down and turned into eye-catching necklaces and earrings.

“We found out that masks are made out of polypropylene, which is the same material as bottle lids,” said student Emily Chan.

“We’ve seen many videos over the years of people upcycling bottle lids, bottles and all these microplastics into products, sheets and all this so we thought we could utilize that in jewelry making.”

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Reaction to Gaia’s products and mission has been overwhelmingly positive, with the company recently winning Junior Achievement’s Big Pitch competition for their creativity.

They’ve even shipped their products to places like New York and Chicago.

What was supposed to be a one day a week venture now has them working five days a week to keep up with demand.

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The socially-conscious young entrepreneurs have even chosen to donate 10 per cent of their earnings to Waste Free Edmonton to support sustainable initiatives.

Gaia is in need of more masks if you have some to donate. They can be dropped off at Lilian Osborne High School.

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