A Filipino high school student has developed a plant-based wax that has shown potential in increasing the life span and effectiveness of reusable face masks. Kiara Raye Cartojano, 18, says she hopes the project can reduce the number of disposable face masks discarded in her city, estimated at more than 480,000 per day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The wax is made from the leaves of the taro plant, a widespread plant with the potential to displace native vegetation and threaten agricultural crops. GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines — Eavlinda Buhat, 57, says she couldn’t help but notice the number of disposable face masks littering the beach in downtown General Santos City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, since the COVID-19 pandemic started. “I have lived in this coastal community for a long time now … trash has always been an issue,” Buhat, who has lived in the city’s Purok Islam neighborhood for almost 40 years now, told Mongabay in Filipino. “But now, it has worsened as face masks and sometimes even face shields are littered on the shore.” With a population of more than 660,000 people, General Santos City generates almost 140 tons of trash every […]

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