A tear-gas mask made out of a plastic bottle

by N. Y.

Selbermachen (Ausgabe IV/2021)


A student puts on a homemade gas mask. Opposition supporters protested against the government in Caracas in February 2014. Photo: Leo Ramírez / AFP / Getty Images

Making this tear-gas mask out of a plastic bottle was vital for me. It helped filter the effects of the tear gas deployed by police during the long weeks of protests on the streets between February 2017 to October 2017. Tear gas hurts protesters eyes, makes it hard to breathe and blurs vision, so it was important. People like me turned to recycling bottles and making handmade masks for anybody to wear. As well as the element of necessity, I like this mask as an eco-conscious act of recycling and an empowering act of DIY. Also it is a tool that can help everybody be protected, regardless of their income and where they live.

With the help of videos that people uploaded it was an easy process to make the mask - it just took a couple of hours, including the drying of silicone. Fortunately we live in a world where young people from around the world collaborate: for example, sharing DIY tutorials on the internet.

“If you wore a mask at the protest it meant you were in the frontlines of the demonstration”

These masks can be easily made by anyone. We recycled plastic bottles from fizzy drinks to water. Let’s face it, trash is everywhere in the world. It is important to clean the bottle really carefully and then go for it!

Wearing the mask felt a bit uncomfortable at the beginning and its not as nice as a 3m mask but it was amazing. After the first protest I customized it a little more to be a touch more cozy and a better fit. It was really effective against tear gas and means that protesters can, without much cost or work, protect themselves as they need to. This is an easy and vital piece of equipment. 

Of course. If you wore a mask at the protest it meant you were in the frontlines of the demonstration. That was risky and meant you had to quickly hide it in your backpack afterwards to avoid being identified. One of the best aspects of this mask is that if you are facing a real threat you can quickly toss it away and later make another one. That is why I think this design has to be shared because it is going to empower communities all over the world to fight back.

As told to Armando Graffe

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