VULNERABLE communities across Southeast Asia will soon have access to half-a-million reusable face masks made from 12.5 tonnes of hotel linen thanks to an upcycling effort backed by Shangri-La Group.
The luxury hotel group teamed up with Diversey, a global hygiene services provider, to give people in 12 cities across the region and in Sri Lanka greater access to reusable face masks as part of the Linens for Life Face Masks (L4LFM) programme.
As part of L4LFM, the 12.5 tonnes of used linen donated by 21 Shangri-La hotels will be repurposed into reusable fabric masks by local non-governmental organisations in Colombo and Hambantota, in Sri Lanka; Penang, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia; Surabaya, Jakarta, Cebu, Manila, Singapore, Bangkok and Yangon.
In cities such as Yangon, Manila, Johor Bahru; Jakarta and Surabaya, Indonesia, and Bangkok, the upcycling of masks will also generate employment opportunities for low-income families.
Some 500,000 will be distributed to local communities in need to provide them with a basic piece of protection that is now mandatory in many countries in the global fight against Covid-19.
The upcycling of clean, used linen into face masks also helps Shangri-La reduce environmental wastage.
Citing a study published in The Netherlands, a Shangri-La spokesman said that if new linen was produced to manufacture 500,000 fabric masks, it would have incurred 60 million litres of water (the equivalent of 23 Olympic-size swimming pools) and a carbon footprint of 150 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 63,000 litres of petrol being combusted.
The Linens For Life Face Masks programme provides clear health, social and environmental benefits for communities during these challenging times. Not only does it give our used hotel linen a new lease of life, it also provides the most vulnerable with a basic piece of protection and helps sustain livelihoods.”
Chan Kong Leong, Shangri-La Group’s regional CEO for in Southeast Asia and Australasia, said: “The Linens For Life Face Masks programme provides clear health, social and environmental benefits for communities during these challenging times.
“Not only does it give our used hotel linen a new lease of life, it also provides the most vulnerable with a basic piece of protection and helps sustain livelihoods.”
In Bangkok, Shangri-La and Diversey worked with Cedar Learning Centre (main picture) where local people upcycled the clean-but-used bedsheets, duvet covers and pillowcases into face masks and distributed them to refugees and asylum seekers in the city.
Volunteers at WHY Loving Care in Penang will create and distribute the masks to vulnerable children in schools and orphanages, while in Johor Bahru, with the help of the Kechara Soup Kitchen, disadvantaged women will receive an additional source of income from the sewing of face masks which will be distributed among poor families and the homeless.
Pictures courtesy Shangri-La Group