As the world copes with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people are adjusting to a new way of living—especially in public spaces. Our workplaces have enhanced air quality and other improvements, and our cities are being modified to kick-start healthier, more sustainable ways of commuting.
Face coverings are mandatory in many public spaces across the world to slow the potential transmission of COVID-19. While the majority of passengers accept face masks as essential, some refuse to wear them, citing discomfort, restricted breathing, and generally bad design as reasons why they’re leaving their masks at home.
Because of this, innovators are looking to create protective products that feel more like a “second skin” rather than a piece of personal protective equipment. One company making inroads in this new industry is WeWork Labs member IAMRUNBOX.
Making masks second nature
Based in WeWork Urban Escape in Stockholm, Sweden, IAMRUNBOX was born in 2015 when founder Kirill Noskov could not find solutions that allowed him to balance his daily fitness schedule with a demanding work life. He set about creating products that made life easier and safer for active commuters with busy lives. Five years later, the company seems to be uniquely placed in this current climate.
“Now more than ever, we feel responsible for helping people to keep active and safe,” said Noskov in a press release in May. “As soon as COVID-19 hit, we fast-tracked the production of a sustainable face mask made locally in Sweden. Now we are about to share our solution with people here in Sweden and all over the world.”
Made from multilayered, breathable fabrics, the RunMask has been test-proven to offer protection from potentially harmful particles in the air. The mask is reusable, adjustable in size, weather-resistant, and ergonomically designed—making the RunMask a sturdy, stylish, and safe option. The company even joined forces with WeFightCovid.org, a nonprofit organization, to help slow the spread of the virus in Sweden.
A sustainable solution
Creating a sustainable mask that can be reused—preventing disposable masks from clogging our streets and waterways—was a no-brainer for IAMRUNBOX. Transparency and sustainability are integral to the organization’s production chain. The issues that IAMRUNBOX came up against during the coronavirus pandemic—from not being able to visit production sites to limited cash flow and logistics nightmares—forced the company to make a choice that was more environmentally friendly, Noskov told Treyd, a logistics payments company.
When the cost of air freight became prohibitively expensive, IAMRUNBOX switched shipping methods. “We do prefer ocean freight from a sustainability standpoint, but in this case, it also became a business necessity,” says Noskov.
The future of being in public spaces, including commuting, is highly uncertain. But with innovative design houses like IAMRUNBOX looking to make daily routines safer and easier for us, we can feel more empowered to make the best choices for our collective health and safety.