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SoCal company makes face coverings out of recycled ocean plastic

A worldwide scuba company based in Orange County is taking thousands of pounds of plastic from the ocean and turning it into protective face covers.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. —

While San Diego County has been strongly encouraging people to wear face coverings when they run essential errands, it will be legally mandated throughout the county starting on May 1.

Now, a Southern California company found a win-win way to protect our favorite place and cover your face.

“We thought given what’s going on in the world, we wanted to do our bit to help out and make product available that people are needing,” said Lisa Nicklin, the Vice President of Consumer Marketing at PADI Worldwide.

PADI is a scuba diving company based in Orange County. It’s teaming up with other eco-friendly organizations to take plastic that’s polluting our oceans,.and instead, turn it into face coverings.

Rash’R sources the material from another company called Ocean’s Balance who collect in a variety of methods,” said Nicklin. “The label and lids get separated out separately. The rest of the material gets turned into plastic flakes, then gets melted down. Then, yarn is spun from that.”

So far, the company has sold 15,000 face coverings, which equates to about 1,200 pounds of plastic ocean waste. That recycled plastic would hurt or even kill marine life.

“Some [animals] inhale. It gets stuck around them. It pulls fins off,” said Nicklin.

PADI hopes people will opt for its reusable "mask" and leave the N-95 masks for the healthcare workers fighting to keep us safe during this coronavirus crisis.

“The whole idea of this thing was to kind of allow an alternative for people to kind of distract us in the joe public from taking medical-grade masks from first responders who really need them,” said Nicklin.

PADI insists this project isn’t about collecting a profit. 

“We’re not making any money from this. We’re just taking something that really aligns with our vision and mission,” said Nicklin.

The California company is making waves all over the world during this pandemic. 

“When you see such a massive and really positive response, it’s such a nice thing in this current environment. Communities are really pulling together,” said Nicklin.

The masks come with five replacement filters, but remember - there’s no replacement for our oceans. 

You can purchase a face covering here.

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