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DIY Covid-19 protective face shield gaining momentum on sister isle


by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • DIY face shields made from empty Glenelg 5-litre bottles
  • Cost $0, 5 minutes to DIY, comfortable all day, 10 times safer than fashioned engineered shields
  • Carriacou yet to record a case of coronavirus

Do it yourself Covid-19 solutions and innovations are gaining momentum as entrepreneurs and individuals are becoming more creative in producing alternative accessories that can be used to protect oneself from the coronavirus.

One such innovation is the production of DIY face shields made from empty Glenelg 5-litre bottles.

Developed by Richard Laflamme of Carriacou, which is yet to record a case of the coronavirus, the plastic face shield can be very effective in preventing the virus from entering one’s body.

A PADI scuba diving instructor by profession, Laflamme who dubbed himself a “Climate Save Actionist” is no stranger to finding alternative solutions to help rid the ocean of unwanted plastics. He stated that since he first arrived in Grenada in 2009, he decided to relocate to the Carriacou, and found himself involved in several projects that saw action taken towards this noble environmental cause. “After many environmental projects relative to the sea with Reef Restoration Foundation (NGO), I got inspired by a young lady called Greta. As a “solution-oriented” and “think big” attitude, I chose to become an actionist (not an activist like Greta). The first ongoing initiative is to replace all single-use water bottle by reusable 5-gallon [bottles] everywhere on the island and reuse discarded glass bottles as it was in 1949, before plastic was invented,” Laflamme said.

The second project undertaken by Laflamme saw grant funding used to granulate all plastic in Carriacou and partially replace aggregate in concrete blocks. “Only 20% of all cement produced annually worldwide is needed to get rid of all plastic discarded worldwide. Our mission is: By 2025, Carriacou will become last free plastic island in all Caribbean by showing an example,” he said.

But his most ambitious project to date is developing DIY face shields in the wake of Covid-19. As is the case for many businesses, Laflamme noted that all the diving business was lost on the sister isle. As a result, he decided to do some research into the creation of face masks, should supplies become limited.

“Then, Covid-19 arrive and we lost all the diving business. For the last 20 days, I did invest 14 hours per day to search for a solution, then, I found a video on YouTube about 10 things to do with plastic. I started to do prototypes with 5-litre plastic bottles until I got to the actual model: cost $0, 5 minutes to DIY, comfortable all day, 10 times safer than fashioned engineered shields,” he said.

Since then, Laflamme produced over a dozen DIY face shields and distributed them for free on the island. “We did 2 dozen and distributed them for free. Most people laugh at me. Then as we were short of stock because everyone discards 5-litre water plastic bottles in landfill or ocean, so we did contact Dr Michele Friday of Glenelg Natural Spring Water who, contrary to our politicians, understood bacterial war and she offered to help. Seven billion of Covid Stop Shield (The Bubble) can be built in a few days worldwide, no stock shortage and extensive manufacturing.”

Laflamme is encouraging other people to follow suit and start to produce their face shield to wear when venturing outside. “There is good hope that we have zero cases in Carriacou because Dr Mitchell is making a great decision and Carriacou people are docile. But in the next few days, if one case shows, it means 10 undetected and exponentially will start as it did in 206 countries. I am not doing that only for Carriacou, I am doing it for the planet and make sure all government will get ready for Covid-20. Yesterday, the CDC just announced that people should build DIY masks and shields when they are in public,” he said.

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