Toronto-based sustainable swimwear brand Ūnika Swim has partnered with Adidas Canada to turn hundreds of their unworn T-shirts into facemasks. The masks will be donated to health care professionals and essential workers in Canada as they continue to fight against COVID-19.

“It’s really important brands use their platforms and production lines to produce things that people need,” Betsy Campos, founder of Ūnika Swim, told us. “People aren’t shopping as much as they would in the uncertainty, and brands should be changing their production lines to give back.”

Campos, who’s usually busy working on custom swimwear pieces, has spent the last days in the studio transforming the donated Adidas garments into pandemic protection. The masks can either be worn as an extra layer on top of the N95 masks workers are already wearing, or be fitted with filters via their specially designed pockets. “My whole aim from the beginning was to use products that were not selling, instead of creating more waste,” Campos says. “Sustainability is so important to us so it was great to recycle brand new shirts that Adidas had in their warehouse, rather than use new fabric and new cotton.”

The masks themselves aren’t just distinct for their sustainability, but also their overall approach to design. As well as being crafted so filters can be fitted, they’ve been put together with comfort in mind. “I didn’t jump on making them right away because I wanted to talk to someone who’s actually working on the frontline,” Campos continues. “I have a few doctors and nurses in my circle and I was able to speak to them and ask [what they would change about masks they’re already wearing].” As a result, they are much more comfortable, catering to the needs of the professionals she spoke with.

Initially, the goal was to make 500 masks but Campos says, with the amount of T-shirts Adidas has donated and the way word of her work has been shared, she’s going to surpass that. When complete, the masks will be going to a variety of locationsincluding clinics, nursing homes, and midwife centresin provinces including Ontario and Nova Scotia.

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